(Washington) - The American Federation of Government Employees, today, testified before the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, the Postal Service, and the District of Columbia House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on reforming the federal hiring process. “AFGE supports the Obama administration’s efforts to modernize, simplify, and reduce the time it takes to hire and train a federal employee for a new job. However, the new plans for competitive hiring won’t mean anything if agencies are permitted to continue to avoid open competition and veterans’ preference by using direct hiring authorities,” said Jacqueline Simon, AFGE public policy director.
Although the revisions outlined in President Obama’s memorandum are a step in the right direction, they do not go far enough in restricting the usage of the Federal Career Intern Program. “Numerous agencies have been using FCIP almost exclusively for new hires, evading competitive procedures and veterans’ preference in the process,” added Simon. “While the Obama Administration has committed to evaluate the use of FCIP, there is already ample evidence that the FCIP is on the verge of replacing the competitive service. If the hiring reforms the administration has presented are to have any relevance, the FCIP must be either repealed or vastly scaled back. We strongly urge the Obama administration to scrap FCIP promptly so that its reformed competitive hiring with veterans preference can become the standard for the federal government.”
Simon discussed several problems with the hiring process, including the gap between the federal and non-federal pay, the need for better, more effective advertisements for recruitment, and the potentially harmful effects of some aspects of the 2009 Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act (S. 736). “The targeted applicant pools outlined in S.736 contradict the purpose of open competition and veterans’ preference. It may be efficient, but it’s not fair to those not in the targeted pool,” explained Simon.
“S. 736 is a well-intentioned effort to ease and expedite federal hiring. The plain language, the resume and cover letter to replace ‘knowledge, skills, and abilities’ essays, and the centralized database of candidates are all excellent ideas that AFGE supports. But even these positive actions will not be sufficient to expedite hiring if agencies are not provided with adequate funding for human resources staff to utilize these new tools,” concluded Simon.