President George W. Bush: Resources for the President's Team The White House
President George W. Bush meets with Dan Bartlett, center, and Josh Bolten in the Oval Office Jan. 9, 2003.  White House photo by Eric Draper.
The Deputy Director for Mgmt
PMA updates, best practices, and general information.
Grading Implementation of the PMA.
Human Capital
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Commercial Services Management
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Improving Financial Performance
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Performance Improvement
Initiative updates, best practices, and general information.
Sharing Best Practices
Stories of achieving breaktrough results in government.
The Five Initatives

Dear Colleagues:

The past quarter has been another record-setting one for Human Capital as another agency - Department of Labor - achieved Green Status; several others showed measurable results on key HCAAF Goals; and I issued a call to all of you to join me in dramatically decreasing the time it takes for talented people to get hired by the Federal government.

Before I turn to Department of Labor's accomplishments, let me share my perspective and my challenge to you in an area where we all want to improve results - the race for talent.

As you know, this has been a deep concern of mine since I came to OPM. The CHCO Act of 2002 provided a strong boost by including several significant authorities that agencies had long sought in this area. Over the past several months OPM, partnering with many of you, has attracted over 53,000 potential applicants to Federal recruitment fairs around the country. The talent is out there and people are interested. We need to get better at bringing them in the door. In a competitive marketplace, timeliness is often the deciding factor. Yet I continue to see statistical and anecdotal evidence that we still have a long way to go to make our hiring process competitive for the best talent America has to offer.

To accelerate our results in this critical area, I am asking you to join me in three key efforts: committing to a challenging result; assessing where we are now; and highlighting best practices that we can all learn from.

Committing to a challenging result

Recently, I introduced a 45-day model for Federal government hiring. Similar to the 30-day model for SES hiring, the 45-day model has been tested within OPM. It covers that portion of the hiring process that is most visible to applicants - when they look to us most for results: the time from the close of a vacancy announcement to the time an offer is made. Applied in conjunction with workforce planning goals and leadership commitment, it will take agencies to a new level of hiring effectiveness. The model is a roadmap on how agencies can achieve a higher level of efficiency for their general HR operations in hiring specific types of employees. Feedback on the model is welcome, and OPM is committed to working with CHCO's and PMC members to hear their views on the model.

Assessing where we are now

OPM is surveying the PMC agencies to take the pulse of how we are doing two years after the CHCO Act gave us expanded flexibilities. The survey is based on my February 10, 2004 Memorandum, "Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Federal Hiring." We are assessing whether the new flexibilities are taking hold, whether unnecessary and cumbersome practices are being swept away, and what further action is needed by OPM and agencies to reduce hiring time. OPM.s Human Capital Officers are working closely with agencies to gather accurate and fact-based information that we can use to map future improvement.

Discovering best practices

Several agencies have offered to partner with OPM to conduct a thorough review of their hiring processes. We are beginning with HUD, and as always I am requiring that OPM itself serve as a test case. Over the next few weeks, we will be doing in-depth interviews and focus groups, mapping the process and uncovering all the outmoded practices that delay hiring. We will share our findings with all of you and assist you with carrying out a similar review in your own organizations. None of us is safe from hidden barriers that need to be discovered and rooted out.

When we look at Department of Labor's success in .Getting to Green. we see that maximizing employment flexibilities is a big part of their success.

  • DOL set aside $1 million for recruitment/outreach activities including the purchase of an online recruitment hiring system and developing attractive, new recruitment brochures and materials, including a trifold in Spanish, for use at recruitment events.
  • DOL's Human Capital Plan calls for Direct Hire Authority for mission critical positions that have severe shortages and a policy on the use of Category Rating.
  • DOL allocated $1 million to finance the FY2003 Department-wide fund for recruitment and retention bonuses.
  • DOL selected 30 candidates for its MBA Fellows Program using the Federal Career Intern Program hiring flexibilities.

Perhaps most importantly, DOL's accountability system includes metrics that track critical indicators of the success of their hiring process. While DOL's Human Capital success encompasses all aspects of strategic management of human capital, they were especially wise in making a flexible and effective hiring system a priority.

I know that many of you are achieving similar results on all aspects of Human Capital and will soon join NASA and Labor in hitting the Green milestone. While progress on every front is critical, I hope you will join me in focusing on accelerating time to hire. A hiring process that is slowed by outmoded and unnecessary practices stands to undermine even our best efforts at Human Capital planning and results.


Kay Coles James
U.S. Office of Personnel Management

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