Average time to hire new federal workers improves

March 13, 2011

The Obama administration is hoping to cut the average time it takes to hire new federal workers down to about 21 / 2 months, but the latest government statistics suggest they still have about 25 days to go.

Agencies took an average of 105 days to recruit and hire new workers in fiscal 2010, down from 122 days the year before, according to the Office of Personnel Management. In the past, it would take agencies up to 200 days to process a hire; 140 days was more common.

President Obama last year ordered agencies to accelerate the hiring system with the goal of eventually processing applications and hiring a new worker in no more than 80 days. The orders — part of Obama’s push to make the government “cool again” — stemmed from concerns that the government is missing out on recruiting highly qualified applicants unwilling to wait more than six months for a final decision.

“All agencies are focused on achieving dramatic reductions in their overall hiring time and reducing hiring time to 80 calendar days for the most commonly filled positions,” OPM said last week in its annual performance report to Congress.

Federal managers responsible for recruiting and selecting new hires are also pleased with the hiring changes. A survey graded on a 10-point scale and administered by federal human resources officials saw a year-to-year jump from 6.77 to 8.06, signaling they’re happier with how human resources officials are tracking down potential applicants.

The federal government’s hiring of military veterans is also improving, according to OPM. Veterans made up about 25 percent of all new federal hires in the first nine months of fiscal 2010, up from 22 percent in the same period the year before. Obama has ordered 24 agencies to hire more veterans; 20 have done so, OPM said.

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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