A report by the National Academy of Public Administration on the implementation of the President’s Management Agenda says that many of the agenda’s initiatives regarding the federal workforce are “sound management practices that are essential for any kind of large-scale government transformation to succeed”–but that carrying them out will require modernizing both policies and HR personnel offices.
It said that while there have been calls to rewrite the basic code of federal employment laws, the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, “the reality is that much of what gets in the way is contained in OPM regulations rather than in statute. That means OPM could rewrite many of them with an eye toward simplification, flexibility, and modernization . . . OPM has the power to reduce the number of job series and the complexity of the classification and qualifications processes, with no legislation required.”
It also recommended paring down “the profusion of hiring authorities that agencies use, most of which are designed to allow agencies to bypass veterans preference.” It said the law could be changed to give blanket “direct hire” authority for agencies to hire veterans for any jobs they qualify for, which would “improve hiring opportunities for veterans, while eliminating the plethora of hiring authorities that complicate hiring.”
It adds that dealing with the numerous hiring, classification and other personnel authorities consumes so much of the time of agency HR offices that they have little time for anything else, and that many of them meanwhile further are hampered by short-staffing and outdated IT. Those offices “need better training, adequate resources, and modern HR systems to have any chance of successfully making the transition from transaction processors to strategic advisors.”