This is a good news, bad news story from David T. Ellwood, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He’s concerned about the federal government’s hiring of recent college graduates.
In testimony submitted for Tuesday’s Senate hearing on “Inspiring Students to Federal Service,” Ellwood says:
“The good news is that sensational people of all ages stand ready and willing to serve….At the Kennedy School, we have hundreds of masters and doctoral students eager to make a difference.
“The bad news is that our system of federal government hiring will drive most of them away and is unlikely to find and select the most able among them. Any sizable private business that hired employees in the way the federal government does would have gone out of business long ago.”
Ellwood prepared his testimony for the federal workforce subcommittee. Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) plans to tell the hearing in his opening statement that the Obama “administration has been making some good progress, but we still hear stories of talented individuals who seek employment with the Federal government, only to grow frustrated with the archaic hiring process and find work elsewhere.”
Ellwood gives credit to the administration for a presidential memorandum last year on speeding the hiring process and a December executive order revamping federal internship programs.
“Still, my message to this committee is that the most important answers will not come from redesigned internship programs or special programs for recent graduates—though these are potentially helpful and important,” Ellwood said.
Among his suggestions:
— “First, our leaders in departments and agencies, in the White House, in unions and in the Congress must take government hiring just as seriously as the finest organizations in the private and non-profit sector do….
— Second, the federal government must move from a passive bureaucratic hiring model to one that is active….
— Finally, to make these things happen, we must find ways to hold senior leaders along with managers and supervisors accountable for their human resources performance, from the time it takes to hire people, to the quality of people selected, to the quality of the experience of applicants and staff members.”