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Zients: Cut hiring time in half

Mar. 11, 2010 - 11:53AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The government's chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients, said March 10 that he wants to cut in half the average time it takes to hire a federal employee.
The government's chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients, said March 10 that he wants to cut in half the average time it takes to hire a federal employee. (Tom Brown / Staff file photo)

The roughly five months it takes on average to hire a new employee should be cut in half or more the government's chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients, said Wednesday.

"I spent a lot of time recruiting in the private sector and competing for the very best talent," Zients told members of the National Treasury Employees Union. "The best people don't loiter for five months. They find another home."

Zients said the Office of Personnel Management is working with agencies to streamline their hiring processes and create systems that will let agencies hire faster.

Zients reiterated the administration's plans for reforming hiring, such as adopting shorter, clearly written job descriptions; evaluating candidates' resumes instead of forcing them to write lengthy, repetitive essays; and improving transparency so job candidates know at all times where they stand in the process.

The administration also wants agencies to hold hiring managers accountable. OPM said last year that many managers procrastinate on hiring and find it difficult to effectively budget the time necessary to review resumes and interview candidates.

Zients said the Housing and Urban Development Department, for example, has 40 steps in its hiring process, and requires 19 signatures along the way to keep the process moving. As a result, HUD takes 139 days on average to hire an employee.

"Not surprisingly, this results in terrible satisfaction scores from both managers and applicants," Zients said. "HUD's 139 days is not an exception. It's actually about average."

Hiring reform is one of six strategies to improve performance Zients outlined. He also wants agencies to eliminate waste, refocus their energies on top priorities, overhaul acquisition, improve information technology systems, and increase government transparency.

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