11:40 pm, April 1, 2015

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  • Above article
    Jeremiah
    Reading over the report, what struck me most was a sense of deja vu. There was nothing being said that had not been surfaced repeatedly, in some cases over many years. The bottom line question remains one of coming up with concrete solutions - not vague "glittering generalities" - that must, if they're to be successful, be based on consensus among the many key stakeholders. That is the conundrum. Every key player has its own priorities and "turf" to protect, and when the bargaining gets down to specifics is where any true consensus of opinion evaporates quickly. One other unsettling aspect of the report was of the "why didn't the dog bark" variety. I looked for but saw little if any emphasis being given to ensuring, in the midst of the various reform initiatives being proposed, that the essentiality of maintaining the basic framework of the merit system was recognized. In the rush to get to the "cheaper, quicker, faster" paradigm, there is a real danger of eviscerating the merit concept, transforming the merit principles in effect into a version of "just so stories." Many years ago, when I was a callow young Federal personnel (terms like "human resources" and "human capital" were then decades away in the future) specialist, a wise senior manager told me that merit-based hiring and other aspects of Federal personnel management of necessity required the development and use of accountability processes to ensure that merit-based concepts were reality and not just given lip service, but that these came with costs. That remains a truism, but one that appears increasingly unwelcome in today's reform-driven milieu. I personally find this disturbing.
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  • "There is a real danger of eviscerating the merit concept"
    David L
    And there rightly should be an evisceration of the merit concept. The whole premise is to protect against "cronyism," and I get that, especially after watching it in full effect for the better part of twenty years. Perhaps it is time for the Federal Government to actually have to follow and obey the same labour laws that every other employer in the United States is forced to follow, rather than the most bizarre and Byzantine process for hiring, and firing. Oh, wait, you can't fire anyone from the Federal Service unless they violate the Hatch act. If the Federal Government is serious about hiring, they need to 1) Make it easier for candidates to apply. 2) Make the whole process faster. Right now, the balance is tipped to the hiring side (Cleared people notwithstanding), but very shortly, the time between resume submission and hiring decision will be back into the two month range. When it takes six months just to certify candidates, it isn't any wonder that the people that get hired are not the best and brightest, by and large, but the "what's left over." And that is no way to move the Federal Government forward.
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