Two of the government’s central personnel agencies, the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board, are taking opposite positions on two programs designed to encourage hiring of minorities by federal agencies. A new MSPB report (“Restoring Merit to Federal Hiring: Why Two Special Hiring Programs Should Be Ended”) says the Outstanding Scholar and Bilingual/Bicultural programs—created nearly two decades ago under a court order—have outlived their usefulness and that reforms since then have assured adequate hiring among those groups. But OPM, which apparently will have the last word, says the programs still are needed and that they don’t undermine the merit system. OPM only recently initiated still greater efforts to recruit among Hispanics, who are under-represented at all levels in the federal government in terms of the general population. Recent figures show that blacks are not under-represented in the general federal employee pool but they are under-represented in percentage terms at higher levels.
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