2020 is the year for scaling up Trump administration workforce pilots

It may be a new year, but for the Trump administration and its efforts to better position the federal workforce for the 21st century, many of its priorities will look familiar.

After all, the administration is nearly two years into implementation of the President’s Management Agenda, a set of 14 goals that cut across several agencies and mission areas. Goals have been set, pilots have been launched and several studies have begun.

2020, according to the latest update on the administration’s workforce modernization goals to Performance.gov, will focus on scaling up reskilling and upskilling programs, expanding various programs past the pilot stage and delivering new data on agency attempts to better manage employee performance.

For example, use of a U.S. Digital Service and Office of Personnel Management hiring pilot, which the administration announced last fall, is due to accelerate.

The pilot was designed to involve subject matter experts in the hiring process, by having SMEs conduct interviews to determine who’s qualified and who isn’t — before applying veterans preference.

OPM and the Digital Service presented the new hiring strategy at 20 locations last year, and at least five agencies are now piloting it on their own, according to Performance.gov.

In addition, both OPM and USDS are working together to use the new hiring strategy to identify qualified candidates to fill several design specialists positions across government, according to the Performance.gov update.

Ten subject matter experts from six different agencies have volunteered to participate in the selection process. The goal is to use the new hiring strategy to develop a shared list of qualified candidates, which all agencies could use to make selections, the administration said.

Shared certifications can help agencies get through part of the hiring process more quickly, since they eliminate the need for human resources specialists to screen for their own list of qualified job candidates.

In many areas, 2020 may be the year where agencies and the public learn more about all the workforce studies, pilots and other initiatives that have been in the works over the past two-to-three years, and they might see some more actionable data to go along with them.

A review of federal compensation, which is supposed to include pay, benefits and reward opportunities and how they square up to the private sector, is on track for completion during the first half of 2020, according to Performance.gov.

The Trump administration is supposed to spend the second half of the year reviewing the results of compensation study and developing a strategy to apply the findings.

Agency leaders have also been working together to identify the most promising best practices to address poor performance, and a report on their findings is apparently on track for mid-2020, according to Performance.gov.

In addition, OPM last fall told agencies to review their existing disciplinary procedures and remove steps that were unnecessary or simply not required by law. The goal, OPM said last year, was to tighten up and streamline agency performance management procedures.

Agency reports on that effort is also due sometime this year, according to Performance.gov.

Most agencies did note improvements on what the administration calls a “key performance indicator” — a Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey question that measures perceptions of how their organizations handle poor performers.

Just two agencies, the Education Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, noted declines in this field. Most agencies overall improved on this question by 2%.

(Source: Performance.gov. Click on graph to view interactive version.)

The Trump administration has also added a few new milestones. It wants to launch an agility training pilot, according to Performance.gov, which will cover “the use of dynamic management approaches ready to keep pace with the speed of change and meet mission requirements in a complex operating environment.”

OPM is aiming to launch the agility pilot near the end of 2020, according to Performance.gov update.

“Career pathing” appears to be another relatively new focus for the administration in 2020, by “developing a shared platform and data standard for career paths and learning competencies.

It’s all part of a broader effort to help employees design potential career paths within federal service — and assist agencies with workforce planning.

Several agencies have been dabbling with career planning tools over the past year.

The Interior Department, for example, launched a new career mapping tool for its workforce late last fall. “My DOI Career” was designed to help Interior employees better understand career opportunities within the department, as well as the paths, skills and attributes they need to score one of those positions.

The site also includes a “Find Your Path” feature, which allows Interior employees to identify their own personal strengths and match them to a career within the department. As of December, the Interior site featured careers that accounted for half of the existing workforce, according to Performance.gov.

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