The average time to fill a vacancy posted on USAJOBS was 106 days in 2017, seven years after OPM set a goal of 80 days, an official from that agency told a Senate hearing.

“This is an improvement from the 122-day [2009] baseline, but disappointing considering the 87-day average that agencies achieved overall in FY 2012. The average time-to-hire has increased each year since 2012,” he said.

He noted that the total time-to-hire “includes planning and administrative elements that are not visible to applicants, such as time for the hiring manager to review the hiring need against staffing and budget plans and to initiate the action to fill the job; and time for HR in collaboration with the hiring manager to review the job description, confirm the qualification requirements and assessment/evaluation strategy, and create and post a job opportunity announcement.”

He said that ongoing improvement efforts include “investing in better tools and technology to support hiring, such as: more robust applicant assessment tools; development of a technology based ‘wizard’ to offer managers direct input into hiring activities; building the capacity of the HR workforce through training and institutionalizing HR capabilities across government; and empowering managers to actively participate in the hiring process.”

Other efforts include enhanced training for HR staff in staffing, position classification, employee performance management and accountability; assessment solutions created to target specific competencies, occupations, and/or job families; and better educating agencies on the hiring flexibilities available for them to use, such as direct hire authority.

He also expressed continued support for two bills backed by the administration that are pending votes in the full Senate: S-1886, to allow agencies to hire on a temporary or term basis to fill positions for which there is a critical hiring need, apart from standard procedures applying to such hiring; and S-1887, to allow direct-hire of college graduates and students deemed qualified for a professional or administrative position at GS-11 or below, although a position still would have to be advertised and merit principles still would apply.