Sen. Tester wants to clean up one messy part of the federal hiring process

Friday - 6/27/2014, 3:20pm EDT

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) wants to clean up a sticky wicket in the federal hiring process with a straight-forward three-page bill.

Tester and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced Thursday the Competitive Service Act of 2014 to simply let agencies share information about potential job candidates when they are trying to fill similar needs.

Tester said in a release that current law prohibits agencies with similar job openings from sharing assessments of applicants with one another.

"This common-sense bill makes government more efficient," said Tester, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, in a release. "It also helps speed up the hiring process so we can make sure we have a strong federal workforce that is ready to serve the American people."

The bill would let agencies choose from a list of potential candidates as long as they were deemed eligible in the last 240 days, in the same occupational job series and for a similar grade level.

The Office of Personnel Management has tried to work through this issue over the last few years.

In 2009, OPM first established applicant pools through a centralized database. The White House required these applicant pools as part of its initial attempt to improve federal hiring.

Then in 2011, OPM created shared registers of qualified applicants specifically for entry level budget analyst and IT specialist positions in about 20 locations. In a memo to chief human capital officers, OPM said agencies would have 30 days to review the list of qualified applicants.

OPM also tried to use this same approach to make it easier for agencies to hire people with disabilities. This shared database is located on the Office of Management and Budget's Max Federal Community website.

Most recently, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta issued a memo in March telling agencies not to focus so much on the time-to-hire metric, but on the quality of candidates and satisfaction of hiring managers and applicants.

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