MSPB says federal hiring officials should focus more on skills rather than education

In today's Federal Newscast, the Merit Systems Protection Board encourages federal hiring managers to focus more on job candidates' skills, rather than their ed...

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is moving to a consolidated campus for the Department of Homeland Security. Now the search is on for a vendor to construct the CISA headquarters at the Saint Elizabeths campus. The General Services Administration is seeking bids from vendors to build a 10-floor, 626,000 square foot headquarters for CISA. Construction has been in the works at the DHS St. Elizabeths campus since 2009. It’s the biggest federal construction project since the Pentagon.
  • The Biden administration calls on agencies to expand feds’ access to paid leave options. The White House additionally urges agencies to encourage feds in their first year on the job to use unpaid leave. That’s if a situation arises and they haven’t been able to accrue enough time off. Biden also directs the Office of Personnel Management to issue guidance to agencies on “safe leave.” This type of leave would let feds take time off to recover from domestic violence. The White House announcement aligned with the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which lets workers use 12 weeks of unpaid leave in certain situations.
  • The Merit Systems Protection Board encourages federal hiring managers to focus more on job candidates’ skills, rather than their education. Currently, about 40% of federal HR staff say their agencies use education “to a great extent” when assessing applicants. That’s according to a recent MSPB survey. The board added that assessments centering on resumes, occupational questionnaires and educational levels are worse at predicting a candidate’s actual job performance. To better assess job applicants, MSPB said more funding may be needed to create centralized hiring tools that agencies can use.
  • Agencies target five common “life experiences” to improve customer experience. The Biden administration is releasing journey maps for the five life experiences outlined in an executive order to improve customer experience in government. The journey maps reflect the perspective of approximately 500 individuals trying to access government services, and the hurdles that get in their way. Senior Presidential Advisor Neera Tanden said the focus on life experiences helps agencies understand where there’s room for improvement. (Agencies target 5 common ‘life experiences’ to improve customer experience in government – Federal News Network)
  • Spouses of Air and Space Force members have a new fast track to get hired at overseas bases. The program allows base officials to quickly hire qualifying spouses for certain positions on a temporary basis. Through a direct hiring authority, an agency can hire any qualified applicant without having to go through traditional steps like competitive hiring. The positions have to be GS-15 or below, and have an initial time period of two years which can be extended to no more than six years.
  • Air Force policy for administrative separation boards has a glitch that could allow the results to be overturned. The Government Accountability Office reports the policy for enlisted separation boards conflicts with itself. It said voting members have to have a rank of E-5 or higher. but another provision of the same policy says voting members have to be E-7 or higher. E-7 is standard for separation boards throughout the rest of the Defense Department.  Separation boards vote on whether service members should be fired for misconduct or poor performance. GAO recommended the policy be clarified.
  • The Navy makes a big award to push its afloat networks further into modernization. The Department of Navy chose eight vendors to provide technology products and services under its Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program. Under the 10-year contract that is worth more than $4 billion, the contractors will produce units, kits, modules, components, software, spares and development items. Under CANES, the Navy is consolidating and replacing its existing afloat networks. The program, launched in 2014, aims to develop the infrastructure for applications, systems and services required for shore, surface and submarine platforms.
  • A technology industry group is calling on White House leaders to streamline agencies’ adoption of cloud services. The Alliance for Digital Innovation is urging the White House to encourage agencies to be less risk averse with their security requirements. ADI also recommended incentivizing agencies to sponsor new cloud services by providing them with more funding and personnel for technology projects. And the group also said that any new security compliance programs in government should include reciprocity for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
  • The Energy Department is facing questions about cyber attacks targeting national labs. Lawmakers are asking Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for documents related to reported cyber intrusions at three national labs between August and September 2022. A Russia-linked hacking group is suspected to be behind the incidents. The hackers created fake log-in pages and sent emails to nuclear scientists to obtain their passwords. Lawmakers want to know more about the extent of the intrusions, including whether any sensitive data was stolen.
  • Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) is the new chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on contracting and infrastructure. LaLota is new to Congress, winning a seat last November, replacing Lee Zeldin. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy and a retired from the Navy serving as a surface warfare officer and as a tactical action officer. One of the subcommittee’s major priorities is the Improve the SBA Act, which would enhance the accountability and accuracy in federal dollars reported as going to small businesses by eliminating duplications in dollars counted. The Democrats have not yet named the new ranking members.

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