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Federal Eye
Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 04/15/2012

A lively debate on hiring Latinos in the federal government

Is there a need for the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment?

Eye Opener

The next meeting of the advisory committee is scheduled for May 4, according to an announcement from the Office of Personnel Management. The purpose of the body, the Federal Register says, is to “advise the Director of the Office of Personnel Management on matters involving the recruitment, hiring, and advancement of Hispanics in the Federal workforce.”

Census data indicate that the Latino population will grow from about 16 percent today to about 28 percent by 2050.

The Federal Diary has reported, as it did last month, that Latinos — who in 2010 made up 7.9 percent of federal employees and 3.67 of those in senior pay level positions — are “underrepresented” in the workforce.

Roger Clegg writes to differ.

His comments set off a lively e-mail debate with Jorge Ponce, co-president of the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives.

Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, indicates on his Web site that he opposes “many so-called affirmative-action programs,” saying they foster racial discrimination. In one e-mail, Clegg noted that although federal employees, for the most part, are required to be citizens, the Hispanic population includes many who are not.

True, but federal employees serve everyone in the country, be they citizens or not.

After last month’s article appeared, Clegg said that “to the extent that ‘underrepresentation’ is cited as evidence that there is hiring discrimination against a group, what matters is not what group is being served, but whether there is a statistical discrepancy between the group’s percentage in the qualified applicant pool and the group’s percentage among those actually hired.”

He also said that “employers — including the federal government — are forbidden by law from putting their thumbs on the scale in order to achieve a predetermined racial/ethnic/gender mix; rather, they are supposed to hire the best qualified individuals.”

Responds Ponce: “With the Census Bureau projecting that the Hispanic population will increase to . . . 30 percent of the U.S. population [by 2050], it would be a mistake not to address this challenge immediately.

“The federal government is allowed to increase its outreach initiatives to groups that remain underrepresented in its workforce. Consequently, if Hispanics are underrepresented in the federal workforce, it is legitimate to increase outreach initiatives so that they will be better represented in the applicant pool. However, if they are represented in the applicant pool, but they keep getting not selected, the federal agency should conduct barrier analyses to find out why.”

Tell us what you think.

federaldiary@washpost.com

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson. Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

By  |  12:55 PM ET, 04/15/2012

 
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