Personnel management is among the areas listed as needing reform in a report from the Partnership for Public Service, which also called for “improving federal leadership, supporting the federal workforce, promoting innovation, modernizing technology and accelerating collaboration across government and across sectors.”
The report cites long-standing issues including difficulties in recruiting and retaining employees with in-demand skills; the length and complexity of the hiring process; and employee engagement levels below those of the private sector’s.
General government-wide recommendations included replacing the GS system with a “modern, occupation-based, market-sensitive pay system”; greater use of talent exchange programs with the private sector and other levels of government; oversight of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and sharing of best practices among agencies.
Specifically on hiring, it recommended “identifying and widely using the most successful hiring authorities, easing the ability of agencies to convert interns into full-time positions, and ensuring interns are paid”; “creating a federal internship and fellowship database, improving the application process, and ensuring that hiring platforms are easily accessible and mobile-friendly”; and greater use of hiring flexibilities.
At the individual agency level, it recommended involving subject matter experts in the resume review and candidate assessment processes; beefing up retention efforts including “robust onboarding programs, mentorship programs, professional development opportunities and cross-agency or government collaboration initiatives”; and “being more intentional in developing ca¬reer paths and providing growth opportunities for those who seek them, particularly when individuals come from groups that are underrepresented in government’s leadership ranks.”
The report also said the government faces leadership problems, in part because it “is doing an inadequate job of training, supporting and developing leaders at all levels with consistent standards focused on modern competencies and core values of stewardship and public trust.”
It recommended establishing standards for leadership development and performance; reducing the number of political appointees; sharing of information about innovations agencies developed in response to the pandemic that could be used more widely; and making the SES selection process more transparent, and strengthening programs that serve as a pipeline into the SES.