USDS and OPM's Game Changing Hiring Process — Coming Soon to a Federal Agency Near You

The Federal hiring process causes frustration on many levels. Hiring managers would rather utilize non-competitive tools, such as the direct hiring authority provision than sift through an enormous pile of largely unqualified candidates. Qualified candidates who want to serve the public may never be considered. Teams that are tied to directives and deadlines are unable to stay on track due to insufficient resources. Agencies and department heads are forced to explain why they failed to meet their objectives, and the American people are left waiting for things to get better. It just doesn’t seem right.

New and Improved Process

Fortunately, the US Digital Service (USDS) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) put their heads together and came up with an amazing new process that certifies qualified candidates before they are presented to the hiring manager.

On October 22, 2019, at Today’s Talent Management Approaches for the Workforce of the Future at National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), Stephanie Grosser, Bureaucracy Hacker at USDS, presented the results of a new hiring process pilot. USDS and OPM looked at the significant issues in the current Federal hiring process and developed this new process that requires significantly more effort from many participants but produces outstanding results. Let’s look at how the new hiring process works:

Step 1: Job Analysis Workshop – Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), Human Resources (HR) personnel, and the hiring manager conduct a two-day job analysis workshop with HR and SMEs to develop assessments.

Bringing all of the interested parties together to clarify the details of the job ensures that everyone who interacts with or evaluates candidates has a common understanding of the objective.

Step 2: Job Announcement – HR posts an accurate and compelling job announcement on to attract the most qualified candidates.

Collaborating on the job announcement content increases the likelihood that candidates who apply understand the responsibilities of the position.

Step 3: Resume Review – Two SMEs review each resume against the core competencies and proficiencies.

Because the SMEs understand the details of the position, they can identify which candidates possess the most crucial qualities.

Step 4: Phone Assessment Interviews – SMEs conduct up to two rounds of phone interviews to determine which applicants meet the minimum qualifications.

Personal interactions allow SMEs to evaluate the level of expertise of each candidate more effectively than with current processes.

Step 5: Issuing Certificate – HR applies veterans’ preference and applies category ratings of best qualified, well qualified, and qualified. Only after the candidate is deemed qualified will veterans’ preference be applied.

While certification currently applies to one position, it is anticipated that this will be expanded to apply for one year, be accepted agency-wide, and perhaps multiple agencies in the future.

Step 6: Hiring – HR specialists prepare a list of qualified candidates for the hiring manager to choose from and make one or more selections.

Source: Process description based on a presentation by Stephanie Grosser at NAPA on October 22, 2019

Pilot Program
Agency NPS HHS
Days 17 11
Applicants 224 165
Qualified 11% 22%
Hired 13 7
Veterans 4

Pilot Program

Stephanie Grosser developed and oversaw two six-month pilot programs to search for IT specialist positions at the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The results achieved were amazing.

  • Time – The amount of time it took to hire an IT specialist went from an average of 47 days to 11-17 days.
  • Effort – The SMEs who contributed a significant amount of time to the process acknowledged that the impact it made on the results was well worth the effort.
  • Education – USDS will be presenting the pilot study results to all Chief Financial Officer Council Agencies individually so that they may have an opportunity to explore it further.
  • Expansion – Because this process proved to be useful for the IT category in the pilots, it is being considered for biologists, customer experience professionals, economists, and HR specialists.
  • Acceptance – OPM issued hiring guidance to agency and department heads describing the process used in the pilot as “currently available options that agencies can use immediately to improve outcomes in Federal hiring.”

Considering that only 42% of respondents to the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey believed that their work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills, it is clear that the need for improvements in hiring is urgent. We applaud the work that Bureaucracy Hacker Stephanie Grosser is doing, and we hope to see this game-changing process implemented throughout the government.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources
Media Type:

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