Federal Manager's Daily Report

Federal agencies face a “range of problems and challenges” in recruiting, GAO has said, although adding that numerous reports it has done on the issue have revealed some best practices to follow.

A GAO witness made that observation in testimony before a Senate committee on long-running issues with recruiting and retaining employees. GAO has issued a series of reports on the resulting skills gaps in numerous occupations that in turn worsen problems with about half of the federal programs GAO’s high-risk list; “strategic management of human capital” itself is on that list, and has been since 2001.

In GAO’s words, strategies “that can help agencies better manage the current and future workforces” include:

* “Manage the timing of recruitment. To address issues of funding uncertainty at the beginning of the fiscal year, agencies should recruit continuously, starting the hiring process early in the school year.

* “Write user-friendly vacancy announcements. GAO has reported that some federal job announcements were unclear. This can confuse applicants and delay hiring. OPM stated that when hiring managers partner with human resources staff, agencies can develop more effective vacancy announcements.

* “Leverage available hiring and pay flexibilities. To help ensure agencies have the talent they need, they should explore and use all existing hiring authorities. A variety of special pay authorities can help agencies compete in the labor market for top talent, but GAO has found that agencies only use them for a small number of employees.

* “Increase support for an inclusive work environment. An increasingly diverse workforce can help provide agencies with the requisite talent and multidisciplinary knowledge to accomplish their missions.

* “Encourage rotations and other mobility opportunities. Upward and lateral mobility opportunities are important for retaining employees, but few employees move horizontally because managers are sometimes reluctant to lose employees.”