Satisfaction of hiring managers with the federal government’s talent pipeline worsened for most agencies in 2022, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Twenty-two of 29 agencies reported a decrease in their satisfaction score, some by only a point or two and others by a large margin, shows Perfomance.gov.
New data this month measured progress thus far of the President’s Management Agenda, the Biden-Harris roadmap for improving management of the federal workforce, customer service and acquisition.
“The approach in developing these metrics focused on important themes facing the federal Workforce, while anchoring where possible on existing measures to drive action across government,” wrote several leaders of the PMA in a memo to agencies in November.
The latest figures show satisfaction with the federal hiring process varies depending on the agency, though the government-wide average score fell from 2021. Managers were asked to rate their satisfaction overall with the hiring process, how well it met expectations and how it compares to their “ideal” system, which may vary from their current reality. Hiring managers, like the applicants they screen, are competing constantly against the private sector for the best minds, hiring flexibilities and up-to-date resources.
“In recent years, OPM has decentralized a wide array of its operating functions. As a result, agencies have been delegated the task of developing and administering assessment tools,” according to a report by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. “However, supporting resources did not accompany this shift in responsibility, and many agencies are not able to take on these additional resource demands. Moreover, delegated examining units have been under great pressure to cut costs.”
The PMA data didn’t give a reason for decreasing satisfaction, only that agencies may experience different recruitment challenges.
The Department of the Interior reported the lowest satisfaction rating of all, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development registered the highest in 2022.
NASA and the Department of Education boasted scores that most improved over the year. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s satisfaction scores fell the most by 15 points, followed by a 13-point drop for OPM and an 11-point slide for the National Archives and Records Administration.
The report says OMB is working to develop a satisfaction metric for applicants’ experiences, as well.
Meanwhile, agencies also reported on whether they met their yearly hiring goals for critical mission occupational series from 2015 to 2021.
For two such occupations, results were somewhat lackluster.
In 2021, about 3,100 people were hired as acquisition professionals government-wide, up from roughly 870 in 2015 and largely unchanged since 2019.
The number of human resources specialists hired across agencies has been relatively static in these years, though “bulk hiring” tactics and agency sharing of applicant pools has been shown to help bring on much-needed talent managers, human capital officers said at their Dec. 13 meeting.
The Government Accountability Office has also identified human capital management as a high-risk area since 2001, partially as a result of pervasive skill gaps.
IT has also been a prolonged weak spot for federal recruiting efforts, though the report shows some growth in hiring for this job series leading up to and into 2019. Then, in the last two years, that same category has seen a decrease.
OPM has targeted recent recruiting efforts at IT and cybersecurity in particular, with a virtual job fair last month and a cheat sheet that translates private sector roles into corresponding government positions so applicants know what to look for.
Agencies be tracked quarterly on their progress toward hiring for these high-priority jobs.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.