Although the federal hiring process has a reputation for being slow, there are tools available to federal agencies that find themselves facing the need for a hiring surge that can be effective if used properly, says a report from the Partnership for Public Service.
The report, done in conjunction with the Democracy Fund, examined hiring surges earlier this year in response to the pandemic, including for various types of medical personnel at the VA and for staff to administer new loan authorities at the SBA. Other reasons agencies may find a need for adding employees quickly, it said, include natural disasters and other emergencies, new programs or policy initiatives, and a spike in turnover for reasons such as office relocations that many employees find undesirable.
Available tools to speed up the hiring process include noncompetitive hiring into the excepted service for certain occupations; exceptions to competitive hiring in the competitive service such as for military spouses, federal annuitants and other former federal employees; and direct hire authority, which does not require rating and ranking applicants, available for some occupations government-wide and which OPM can grant to agencies on a case by case basis.
It said that key strategies to use those authorities include:
* “Determine which government-wide or agency-specific hiring authorities best meet the needs of the hiring surge.”
* “Develop recruiting infrastructure by leveraging data and technology and by hiring recruiters or training cur¬rent staff on how to attract candidates and guide them through the hiring process.”
* “Apply a project management approach to streamline the hiring surge.”
It added: “Agencies should ensure that all their hiring practices—including those beyond the standard federal processes—are transparent and conducive to appropriate oversight. More importantly, agencies must remain faithful to the federal merit system principles.”