Federal Recruiting and Hiring:

Making Government Jobs Attractive to Prospective Employees

GGD-90-105: Published: Aug 22, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) major problems that federal agencies were having in recruiting and hiring qualified entry-level employees; and (2) effectiveness of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and federal agency actions in addressing those problems.

GAO found that: (1) noncompetitive starting pay, ranging from 4 percent to 49 percent behind private-sector salaries, resulted in difficulty in recruiting high-quality applicants; (2) interviewed college students overwhelmingly said that entry-level federal salaries would not meet their financial needs; (3) even with special rates, starting salaries for hard-to-fill occupations were not competitive with the private sector; (4) lack of flexibility in setting entry-level pay hindered federal competitiveness with the private sector in different geographical areas; (5) agencies viewed the federal government's hiring system as time-consuming and unnecessarily complex; (6) a lack of documentation made it difficult to determine the timeliness of federal hiring methods or the effectiveness of OPM monitoring of agency hiring; (7) agencies' direct-hire procedures did not fully meet merit employment principles; (8) a lack of federal employment information available to college students and a poor image put federal agencies at a recruiting disadvantage; (9) agencies that actively recruited attracted sufficient numbers of applicants, although the quality of applicants was a concern; (10) surveyed students rated personal contacts as the most effective recruiting technique; and (11) agency recruiters had little knowledge of OPM recruiting initiatives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM now has developed a model recruitment program, components of which will be discussed in the new FPM chapter which currently is in the clearance process. The model program also will be included in a new "recruiting foundations" course now under development.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should develop a model recruiting program for agencies to use as a reference in designing their individual recruiting efforts. This model should incorporate procedures for developing recruiting strategies and for measuring the success of recruiting activities and operations.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FPM Letter 332-25, issued on August 1, 1991, provides new procedures for agencies to follow when making direct-hire appointments.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that fair and open competition remains the hallmark of entry into the federal civil service, the Director, OPM, should revise and update its direct-hire procedures to ensure that the requirements of open and fair competition are clearly specified in delegations of direct-hire authority designed to facilitate college recruiting by agencies.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FPM Letter 332-25, issued on August 1, 1991, provides new procedures for agencies to follow when making direct-hire appointments.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that fair and open competition remains the hallmark of entry into the federal civil service, the Director, OPM, should revise and update its direct-hire procedures to incorporate direct hire as a part of its evaluation efforts and require agencies in their internal personnel management evaluations to assess whether the use of direct hire complies with merit system requirements.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FPM Letter 332-25, issued on August 1, 1991, provides new procedures for agencies to follow when making direct-hire appointments.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that fair and open competition remains the hallmark of entry into the federal civil service, the Director, OPM, should revise and update its direct-hire procedures to require agencies, as a condition of using direct-hire authority, to maintain complete personnel records and to document the results achieved through recruiting efforts.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FPM Letter 332-25, issued on August 1, 1991, provides new procedures for agencies to follow when making direct-hire appointments.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that fair and open competition remains the hallmark of entry into the federal civil service, the Director, OPM, should revise and update its direct-hire procedures to provide criteria that agencies can use to determine which plan of direct hire is most appropriate to their fluctuating needs.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was adopted by OPM for its fiscal year 1991 governmentwide reviews.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should, as a means of improving documentation of agency personnel records used in the hiring process, incorporate into OPM evaluation program effectiveness reviews of agencies' systems for monitoring the timeliness of staffing actions.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM expects to be operationally testing the automated Employee Information Clearinghouse by the second quarter of FY 1994. It will include information on employment, recruitment, training initiatives, personnel policy updates, student employment programs, etc. Agencies will be able to provide feedback on the quality and effectiveness of the system through an on-line assessment feature. OPM developed a formal training course, "Recruiting Foundations for Program Managers," to deal with the lack of professionalism in recruiting. The training course provides line managers and human resources specialists with tools necessary to plan, build, upgrade, and manage their recruiting programs. Given the government's current business environment, establishing a recruiter's network is not necessary.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should determine why information it provides to agencies is not being communicated to recruiters by the agencies, and in cooperation with the agencies, establish a recruiters' network to better communicate with and receive feedback from agency recruiters on OPM recruiting initiatives and policies.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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