The final report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service—a group of experts that met for two years—recommends a variety of changes in federal employee personnel policies, many of them along the lines of recommendations in previous studies.
On hiring, recommendations include updating the application process and candidate assessment methods; making veterans preference a tiebreaker between equally qualified candidates and focusing its use on those newly separating from the military; expanding eligibility for noncompetitive hiring from programs such as fellowships and scholarships; and establishing a Public Service Corps similar to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to create a path for college students into federal jobs.
Other recommendations include encouraging agencies to make full use of the available authorities to retain and reskill employees; expand special pay and training programs for high-demand occupations such as health care and cybersecurity; revive the “demonstration project” authority to test alternative personnel systems; offer an optional retirement program for those not interested in a full career with the government with increased agency contributions to the TSP but no annuity benefit; and offer a “cafeteria” approach to benefits in which employees could direct government contributions toward the benefits they value the most.
The Senior Executives Association called for action to carry out the proposals, noting that personnel management issues contribute to the majority of issues on the GAO’s “high-risk” list, “resulting in a massive waste of taxpayer dollars simply because the federal government is unable to manage its workforce effectively.
Despite years of work by central personnel bodies, these problems persist. The commission offers a fresh, new perspective on these long time dilemmas and provides a roadmap for improving this system that should not be dismissed quickly,” it said.