Agencies to start reporting on how long it takes to hire new recruits

April 25, 2011

We should know by the end of June how long it’s taking applicants to get a federal job.

Following up on President Obama’s orders last year to accelerate the often-lengthy federal hiring process, agencies must begin reporting on a quarterly basis how close they are to the president’s goal of filling federal job vacancies within 80 days.

The Office of Personnel Managementwants to know what percentage of workers are hired within the 80-day goal, and how long it’s taking, on average, per hire. In a memo sent last week, the OPM is also asking agencies how long it takes to fill “mission-critical” jobs, including information technology specialists, human resource officials and top career positions.

Numbers released in Marchsuggest the government is still about 25 days shy of Obama’s 80-day goal, with agencies taking about 105 days to recruit and fill slots in fiscal 2010. Those numbers are down from about 122 days the year before. In the past, it used to take agencies up to 200 days to post a job, interview applicants and hire a new worker.

Cost-cutting in print

In the administration’s push to cut printing and paper costs, the White House is ordering federal agencies to cancel print subscriptions to the government’s own journal of official activities.

The move means that about 4,700 fewer editions of the Federal Register will be printed for executive branch agencies, saving the government at least $4 million annually, according to the White House.

The idea to cancel print subscriptions comes from a Federal Bureau of Prisons employee who submitted the idea as part of a White House contest seeking cost-cutting ideas from rank-and-file federal employees.

The winner, Trudy Givens of Portage, Wis., met with Obama last month after she beat out 18,000 other submissions for the White House SAVE Award. In her submission, she noted that rarely read print editions wasted paper and took up space in her office.

As the government implements Givens’s idea, federal agencies have until May 13 to cancel their print subscriptions and begin accessing the Register at FederalRegister.gov. The White House said Monday that visitors accessed the site more than 26 million times last year.

The Register is a compilation of public meeting notices, proposed and final regulations and all presidential documents. It publishes every weekday that the federal government is open. Last year’s editions included a total of 82,589 pages, according to the White House.

Although the Government Printing Office prints each copy, about 55 Register employees help produce each edition, according to Michael White, the Register’s managing editor. He said no Register employees will lose their jobs because of the subscription cancellations, because his office draws its funding from the budget of the National Archives.

A GPO spokesman said the agency would adjust its staffing and resources as necessary once the subscriptions are canceled.

The cancellations are the latest in a string of paper-based cost-cutting moves enacted by the administration that are mostly symbolic and do little to cut overall federal spending.

Federal employee leave and earning statements are now sent electronically, saving about $4 million annually. The government is also directly depositing Social Security, veterans and federal retirement payments instead of mailing checks. The White House estimates that the move should save taxpayers about $303 million in the next five years.

Senators are pushing legislation that would save about $8 million annually by forcing the GPO to stop printing thousands of print copies of the Congressional Record, its daily compilation of official activity.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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