Three commissions that recently examined and reported on federal personnel issues from different angles have jointly asked the Armed Services committees of the House and Senate to include their recommended reforms as they write the annual DoD authorization bill. While that bill primarily affects DoD, it often contains government-wide provisions, as well.
“The federal government must reform how it recruits, trains, and educates its workforce, otherwise it will continue to struggle to modernize and maintain its lead in the world. To attract top talent, the government must streamline its hiring processes and recruit beyond conventional pathways into government,” said a letter from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.
The letter listed several dozen recommendations from their reports—some specific to artificial intelligence- or cybersecurity-related positions, and others applying across the workforce—including initiatives on recruiting, hiring, training, fellowship type programs and more.
“Most, if not all, of the hiring authorities to do so are already in place, but institutional and cultural barriers reduce their use. To improve, we should encourage the use of existing authorities in a manner that maximizes flexibility to hire personnel for select billets and position descriptions. We should also collect better data and promote research on workforce dynamics to inform our next steps,” it said.
“In addition, the federal government needs to increase the public’s awareness of opportunities for public service, particularly for those with digital talent. Public servants are vital to the security and well-being of the nation, yet outdated rules and practices make it difficult to hire and retain the best talent. To address these challenges, our commissions make recommendations to fix hiring, engage the next generation in public service, and empower agencies to build their workforce to meet evolving needs and better serve the American people,” the letter said.
“Once talented, service-minded individuals accept an offer to work in government, we must take steps to retain them,” it added. “Those steps begin with better understanding and mitigating the impact of the current security clearance process on recruitment and retention. As federal employees progress in their career, we should take further action to strengthen skills and retain talent by building innovative opportunities for ongoing professional development and on-the-job learning.”