OPM moves into the next phase of hiring reform

Tuesday - 1/25/2011, 8:09pm EST

Angela Bailey, deputy associate director for recruitment and hiring, OPM

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By Meg Beasley
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management is preparing to take the next step in hiring reform. Angela Bailey, the deputy associate director for recruitment and hiring, said her office is developing new metrics to help agencies with the recruiting and assessments of potential new employees.

"We are going to roll out state-of-the-art tools to help agencies with their recruiting and attracting top talent," said Bailey in an interview with Federal News Radio.

Last May, President Obama issued an Executive Order aimed at streamlining the hiring process and to improve the recruiting of top talent. The mandate, Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process, was the first phase of the administration's comprehensive initiative to address major, long-standing impediments to recruiting and hiring. Based on issues agency managers brought to OPM, the order identified key areas that needed reform.

In response to the order, OPM developed Mobile Assistance Teams (MATs) to travel around the country and help agencies implement these changes. Bailey said that the fact that education program went to agencies, rather than making them come to Washington for training, really set the MATs apart from other training initiatives.

"We weren't entirely sure how receptive the agencies would be," Bailey said. "But it was overwhelming, the amount of response we got from the agencies, and I think what that speaks to is [the agencies] really see there is so much expertise in OPM's policy office, they were more than willing to have that kind of expertise come out to their local areas and help train both the H.R. specialists and their hiring managers."

To date, the teams have trained 17,500 employees in 66 cities. MATs, which are staffed by OPM experts, have traveled to 31 states and made presentations to 28 Federal Executive Boards.

Bailey said that one of the biggest challenges was making sure agencies understood the Executive Order and the logic behind the reforms. For the most part, education alleviated concerns agencies had about the new hiring processes.

In addition to the MATs, OPM developed a hiring reform website with several other educational tools including collaborative network or community of practice, targeted agency support, communication and training through a blog and do-it-yourself training material.

The instruction MATs provided and the changes agencies made last year laid the groundwork for phase two of the hiring reform.

"2010 was building the foundation of the house," Bailey said. "We went out and worked with the agencies to create an excellent base. And now it's time to put the windows and roof on the house and top it off. 2011 becomes the wow factor."

OPM plans to achieve this wow factor with a two-pronged approach. Bailey said she wants to help agencies move beyond making things easier for applicants and help managers make the most of the hiring process.

"My goal in 2011 is to help hiring managers and HR professionals be able to move beyond just the applicant experience and be able to move really into the assessment and the quality and attracting and retaining the next generation of federal workers," said Bailey.

Bailey said USAJobs.gov, the online database for federal job opportunities, is a part of this effort. She did not specify when the new tools would be rolled out.

Bailey added that while the government wants to improve its strategies for recruiting and retaining top talent, it is still the most popular employer in the country. She said most jobs generate more than 400 applications and some as many as 1,000. Bailey said the interest is because of the great benefits, a good work environment and numerous professional opportunities offered by the government.

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