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Agencies tout successes in slashing hiring time

Nov. 17, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Kathy Ott, acting deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, said DoD now takes about 79 days on average to hire new employees. In January, the Pentagon said it took 151 days on average to hire a new employee.
Kathy Ott, acting deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, said DoD now takes about 79 days on average to hire new employees. In January, the Pentagon said it took 151 days on average to hire a new employee. (Chris Maddaloni / Staff)

The Defense Department and other large agencies said Wednesday they are making progress in cutting their hiring processes down to size.

Kathy Ott, acting deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, said DoD now takes about 79 days on average to hire new employees. In January, the Pentagon said it took 151 days on average to hire a new employee.

"DoD understands the need for, and has embraced, hiring reform," Ott said at a hiring reform event held at the Housing and Urban Development Department's headquarters in Washington. "Hiring qualified talent and making sure it is available when we need it is a key to our mission readiness. It is critical we have the civilian talent we need to support our warfighters. There is nothing more important."

But whittling hiring time down was no small feat for a department that hired 116,000 employees in fiscal 2009. Ott said the Pentagon conducted a Lean Six Sigma study that found its hiring process was riddled with redundant steps. The Pentagon in 2008 said its hiring process contained 32 steps, but Ott said it now has 14 steps.

Ott said another problem was that although managers were involved in about 30 percent of the hiring process, many were confused by it. So Ott's office has distributed a series of instructional guides explaining the most commonly used hiring authorities, onboarding tips, and the various steps in the hiring process. Other guides now being finalized focus on how to analyze vacant jobs to determine what key competencies a candidate should have, and how to craft a strategic work-force plan.

President Obama issued a memo in May ordering agencies to speed up the hiring process, and do more to involve managers in hiring.

The Veterans Affairs, Energy, and HUD departments also said they have made progress. VA said it has cut its average hiring time from 102 days at the end of fiscal 2009 to 81 days at the end of fiscal 2010. HUD said it cut its 139-day, 39-step hiring process down to a 14-step process that takes 76 days.

And Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman said his department hopes to have its average hiring time down to 80 days by the end of fiscal 2011.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said all agencies are making progress, though the government hasn't reached its goal of hiring new employees in 80 days on average. Berry said his agency is still collecting statistics on the government's overall hiring times, and expects that information will be out by the end of December.

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