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Public Statements

Introducing the Hiring Process Improvement Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. SARBANES. Mr. Speaker, in the coming decade, close to 50% of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire, making the development of the next generation of federal workers even more vital. Yet, as federal agencies struggle to recruit and retain the next generation of public servants, we continue to force hiring managers and prospective candidates to navigate an out-dated and bureaucratic hiring process that deters the best and brightest from pursuing careers in public service.

* In short, the Federal hiring process is broken. Despite increased pressure from the Administration to improve hiring and recruitment processes:

* Many federal agencies still take as long as 200 days from the date of a vacancy to hire--delays that compromise federal recruitment, jeopardize government operations and waste taxpayer dollars.

* The hiring process at federal agencies involves as many as 110 discrete steps and more than 45 hand-offs between managers, administrative officers and HR specialists.

* In some agencies, hiring managers are required to select from the three highest-rated candidates selected by HR specialists, making it impossible for managers to play a role in recruiting their own staff.

* Rather than base initial screening decisions on applicants' resume and cover letter, candidates for federal employment must provide lengthy, essay-style responses about the applicants' knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs).

* That is why I have joined Senator AKAKA in authoring this common-sense, good government legislation to bring the federal hiring process in-line with private sector best practices by:

* Requiring agencies and departments to develop a comprehensive strategic workforce plan focused on hiring, recruitment, skills deficiencies and potential process reforms;

* Moving the federal government to a resume- and cover letter-based application system;

* Shortening the federal hiring process to an average of 80 days after a vacancy has been posted;

* Better integrating hiring managers into all stages of the hiring process and providing them with greater flexibility in final decisions; and

* Requiring government wide data collection and reporting on the efficacy of the hiring process.

* This legislation has a long, bipartisan history--in 2009, Senators AKAKA and VOINOVICH authored similar legislation in the Senate. In 2010, President Obama recognized the tremendous personnel challenges facing federal agencies and issued Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process, a Presidential Memorandum on federal hiring reform that includes some of the elements in our legislation. The Senate unanimously passed the Akaka-Voinovich Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act in the previous Congress, only to watch it die in the House.

* Enactment of a substantive, bipartisan hiring reform bill is long past due. Our legislation seeks to codify and build upon the Administration's memorandum, while ensuring an unprecedented level of transparency in and oversight of the federal hiring process. The Washington Post called on Congress to pass the Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act in a July 2011 editorial, arguing that ``today's antiquated hiring practices are thwarting a generation of inspired public servants in the making.''

* I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator AKAKA for his tremendous leadership on federal hiring and recruitment issues and to thank the Partnership for Public Service for their advocacy in support of hiring reform. Whether it is a firefighter saving lives, an agent protecting our borders, a scientist pioneering new research, or a nurse caring for our veterans, we owe it to taxpayers and the next generation of public servants to build a better hiring process and to ensure that those with the desire to serve our country are able to do so.


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