98 days and counting, will federal hiring ever get easier?

It took agencies an average of 98 days to hire new talent, according to the most recent data available from 2018.

Ask federal managers about what stresses them out the most, and it’s not firing. It’s hiring.

Human resources gets involved. They go back and forth over the wording of the job announcement and finally post the job to USAJobs.gov.

They wait. And they hire … no one.

That’s reality for most federal managers. The U.S. Digital Service has said just half of the positions posted to USAJobs end up with a selection, a real-life human being who’s qualified and capable of handling the work their agencies need them to.

More and more, agencies are turning to social media and other job sites, as well as direct-hire authorities and other flexibilities, that allow them to bypass the tedious competitive hiring process.

So perhaps it’s no surprise the Office of Personnel Management last month announced a seemingly small change to the way it counts a metric called time-to-hire. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes for an agency to post a job opening, accept resumes, review and rate the candidates and then make a job offer.

The new reporting metric, OPM said, will now include all new hires, not just the positions posted on USAJobs.

Agencies will also begin counting from the time a manager identifies the hiring need until a candidate accepts a tentative job offer and starts the onboarding process.

In fiscal 2015, it took agencies nearly 100 days, on average, to hire a new employee, according to OPM. Time-to-hire jumped to 105.8 days in 2016 and 2017, but then fell to 98 days in 2018.

OPM at one point set a time-to-hire goal of 80 days, but today it encourages agencies to focus first on the quality of new hires first and worry about the numbers later.

In announcing this change, OPM said it made the time-to-hire reporting changes to reflect feedback and more “accurately account for time that may be outside the agency’s control.”

But in some ways, a seemingly minor announcement from OPM reflects the reality most agencies face today: Managers are doing anything and everything to bypass a traditional, competitive hiring process that many argue is broken.

Other stories you may have missed this week…

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is offering buyouts and early retirements to one-fifth of its current workforce. Some 1,200 employees will get an offer next week, with incentives worth up to six months of their salaries. For a few of them, incentives will total an entire year’s worth of salary.

Some FDIC salaries top out at $273,400, including locality pay. An FDIC corporate manager, for example, can make anywhere from $117,254-to-$195,445.

Cut that salary in half and an FDIC corporate manager at the highest level could walk out with $97,727 in his or her pocket.

Not bad.

And certainly better than the maximum Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) of $25,000, which most other federal employees might be familiar with.

That maximum incentive payment still hasn’t budged since at least 2002, despite a couple of recent attempts to raise it.

And everyone’s talking about telework this week, as concerns over the coronavirus are spreading fast.

To prepare for a potential outbreak, the Office of Personnel Management has asked agencies to ensure as many employees as possible are “telework-ready.”

Some agencies are hosting telework “test runs” to make sure eligible employees can log in to their systems and do their jobs remotely.

Others, like the Social Security Administration, are reminding employees to cover sneezes and coughs. In a message to the workforce, SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul advised employees to stay home when they’re not feeling well, even if they’d prefer to tough it out and work anyway.

What is your office doing, if anything, to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in your area? Let us know in the comments, or send me a note about it at nogrysko@federalnewsnetwork.com.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By David Thornton

The world’s hottest pepper, the Dragon’s Breath chili, is so hot it could kill someone unwise enough to eat it. That’s because the capsaicin (the chemical responsible for spiciness) content is so high it could cause anaphylactic shock and the closing of a person’s airways. The pepper was never intended for eating; it was specifically grown to create a topical numbing anesthetic.

Source: Live Science

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