The federal government is facing one of the greatest
transformations to the civil service in 50 years, and
defining the appropriate roles and day to day working
relationships for hiring practices for Office of
Personnel Management and agencies is crucial to meeting
ambitious hiring goals over the new few years, the
General Accounting Office has said.
It said OPM and individual agencies — who are doing
some finger pointing regarding who is to blame for lack
of progress on hiring reforms — need to focus on fixing
the job classification process and improving tools to
assess the qualifications of job candidates.
GAO said agencies have been slow to use two new hiring
flexibilities: direct hire authority, and category
rating, which allows agencies to select any candidate
placed in a best-qualified category.
It reached that conclusion based on a survey of agency
chief human capital officers, noting that OPM dismissed
the survey because it felt CHCOs weren’t knowledgeable
enough to respond meaningfully to it.
The surveyed CHCOs said there is a lack of OPM guidance
for using the above hiring flexibilities, a lack of
agency policies and procedures for using them, a lack
of OPM rules and regulations, and concern about possible
inconsistencies in the implementation of the
flexibilities within departments or agencies, said GAO.
It did however point out improvements OPM has made in
modernizing vacancy announcements and its efforts to
promote hiring flexibilities, some of which agencies
have begun to use — reiterating that improvements will
have to increase if the federal government is to meet
its hiring goals over the next few years.