(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees’ (AFGE) National President, John Gage testified today before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about overcoming the obstacles in hiring the next generation of federal employees. In his testimony, John Gage stated that AFGE strongly supports hiring policies that facilitate the hiring of talented new employees. However, he told the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia that AFGE would continue to oppose any and all proposals that attempt to circumvent strict adherence to the merit system and veterans’ preference.
The federal government has been criticized by those attempting to enter the federal system for its lengthy hiring process, but the nature of work in the public sphere requires a secure process, including background checks, security clearances, and education and past employment verification. “Hiring the next generation of federal employees is a serious undertaking. Those charged with the task have both a legal and social responsibility to conduct federal hiring in the most open and fair way possible, and openness and fairness take time,” added Gage.
In his testimony, Gage offered several solutions to overcoming the federal government’s recruitment challenges and labored hiring process. “The downsizing of the 1990s and the indiscriminate contracting out conducted by the Bush Administration have left personnel offices across the federal government decimated. There are too few personnel to handle the duties related to hiring in the most expeditious way. Hiring more federal employees to work in agency human resource offices would be an enormously important step in speeding up the hiring process,” said Gage.
AFGE recognizes that the federal government has made real progress in attempting to provide succession planning, as waves of baby boomers begin to retire. The most important of these reforms being the Federal Workplace Flexibilities Act of 2006, which enables agencies to entice both internal job candidates and those outside the federal sector with large bonuses equal to as much as 100 percent of salary for recruitment, retention and relocation. The law also allows agencies to provide assistance to recent graduates through loan repayment programs. Unfortunately, agencies have been unable to adequately implement these incentives because of the Bush Administration’s refusal to fund the programs.
“The common thread to implementing the changes necessary to meet the challenges in hiring and recruiting quality talent for public service is money. I understand that for some that may be a concern, but not to effectively staff our federal agencies with our nation’s best talent is to do us all a severe disservice,” concluded Gage.