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OPM's Berry vows to fix any problems with hiring registers

Jul. 29, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
OPM Director John Berry
OPM Director John Berry (TOM BROWN / STAFF)

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry today reaffirmed his commitment to a struggling centralized hiring register program and said he has no intention of canceling it.

"We have no intention of surrendering after one year," Berry said in an interview with Federal Times. "I'm concerned that it's not been as successful as we would have liked. But we recognize that we can't throw it out after one year. We're going to stick with this."

Berry's comments came one day after an OPM official said that, in the first seven months of the register program, federal agencies have made only 71 hires out of 106,000 qualified job candidates offered through the registers.

OPM in April announced it had established registers for 13 of the most common jobs in the federal government. Under the system, OPM advertises for jobs such as accountants, secretaries and contracting specialists, evaluates applicants, applies veterans preference points, and ranks candidates. When a hiring manager needs to fill a slot, he tells OPM what skills he needs, and OPM will send him a list of suitable candidates.

Ted Cuneo, chief of staff for Angela Bailey, OPM's deputy associate director for recruitment and diversity, said at a conference July 28 that many hiring officials throughout the government are unaware the registers exist, and he said OPM may cancel the program if it continues to be underutilized.

But Berry said that beginning the week of Aug. 9, OPM will start trying to figure out how to improve the registers and get more agencies to use them. OPM plans to meet with large agencies such as the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments and talk to them about where the problems are.

Berry was not sure what other problems aside from a general lack of awareness are plaguing the registers.

"That's why we're going to do a deep dive, to figure out if there is a concern over the quality of candidates," Berry said. "Do we need to do better assessments? Are we not marrying up skills with what we need? Is the diversity not good? I don't know those answers until we get together with the people doing the hiring."

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