Presidential Management Fellowship Program examined

”Davidson”

The top two House Republicans overseeing the federal workforce are calling on the Obama administration to explain recent mishaps with a prestigious program designed to attract future government leaders.

The Presidential Management Fellowship Program advertises itself as “a flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced degree candidates.”

In a letter to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Dennis A. Ross (Fla.) said that “unfortunately, recent problems with OPM’s administration of the Program threaten its prestige and the government's ability to recruit future Fellows.”

The March 1 letter to OPM Director John Berry outlined the problems:

●On Jan, 23, OPM mistakenly sent 300 semifinalists, who had not qualified as finalists, e-mails congratulating them on their acceptance into the program.

●On Nov. 1, 2011, OPM sent out blank e-mails that did not identify whether applicants qualified for the in-person assessment.

●From Oct. 7-10, 2011, qualified applicants could not access the online assessment program.

A spokesman for OPM said it is “reviewing the letter and we will respond as appropriate. Our goal is to have this program shine and be a premier gateway to Federal service. We are working hard to ensure any mistakes are not repeated. Above all else, OPM is committed to making this program equal to the excellence of the leaders it attracts.”

Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Ross, the chairman of the federal workforce subcommittee, said they are “concerned that these problems are indicative of larger IT failures within OPM, which include Retirement Modernization and USAJobs.gov.” The retirement program and the online jobs board have experienced serious technical issues.

They asked Berry to submit a “description of all issues that may have adversely affected a candidate’s ability to apply for the Program and what specific actions OPM took to remedy those issues.”

The congressmen also want, by April 13, a list of formal complaints OPM has received about the program.

Have you had issues with the Presidential Management Fellowship Program? If so, let us know by writing to federaldiary@washpost.com.

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

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.
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