Kiran Ahuja, director of the Office of Personnel Management, stressed on Tuesday a “call for service” to encourage people to apply for more than 8,000 jobs allowed by the two-party infrastructure law signed by President Biden last year.
Since the president’s landmark law was passed, OPM has issued direct powers to hire various agencies to help them hire new staff quickly, and in February, Ahuja announced the creation of a schedule A hiring body to attract climate scientists and engineers. and clean water engineers, among other positions. This body allows the agencies to hire staff for a period of one year, with the possibility of resuming their work for an additional year.
Ahuja said Government executive in an interview that the current jump in hiring is an opportunity for people to be part of the largest infrastructure investment in the United States since the Eisenhower administration.
“We have made a big push over the last few weeks, really to promote the work we are doing on the bipartisan infrastructure law and the number of jobs we need to fill to implement this historic investment, which will build many new roads, bridges. and repair of crumbling ones, investments in ports, provision of clean water throughout our country, expansion of broadband access [internet] access and a very ambitious clean energy program, “she said. “It simply came to our notice then.
Ahuja said OPM had been working with agencies before the infrastructure bill was signed to commit to strategic workforce planning so they could move quickly once in place and hire administrative staff as specialists. on human resources to support the hiring needed to implement the Act. OPM also coordinates government job vacancies so that multiple agencies can hire from the same group of qualified candidates.
“We focused on planning, planning, planning, front-end planning, and then what we can do to use resources in different agencies,” she said. There were government job advertisements so that everyone could produce such a “certificate” and we did this especially for human resources professionals, who were really the foremost people we needed to [then] hire more people so it works in that order. We did a variety of direct recruitment bodies, one focusing on bipartisan infrastructure jobs and others more agency-specific if they asked for or required it, so these were the ways we really tried to support agencies in various ways to speed up hiring.
OPM hopes that the use of temporary appointments as a recruiting body for Schedule A will help attract a new generation of people who are interested in joining the federal government for their careers, as well as people who are not interested in staying for decades. but want to serve a shorter stay in public service.
“Another way we talk about this is that these are jobs where there is a real path to longer-term opportunities,” Ahuja said. “Or, if you didn’t think of being in government but would like to take on a job, it allows the agency to attract people quickly to complete a program or a set of skills with the idea that this is a very specific period of time. so that you can complete the various stages of whatever program you are running. “
In addition to the added flexibility that temporary appointments provide to agencies, Ahuja said the government would continue to push for the idea that federal employment offers both high pay and benefits, as well as mission-oriented work. And the agencies have redoubled their efforts to expand their recruitment pools through partnerships with colleges and trade associations.
“We’re talking a lot about how more than 80 percent of federal jobs are outside of Washington, D.C., and that’s a trend for the jobs we’re filling for BIL,” she said. “So there is an opportunity to get these jobs, to bring in a local perspective, to work in your community, and then also to accept some of the flexibility of telecommuting and telecommuting that we are all used to during that time. . . And we’re not just focusing on that: we’ve really improved our recruitment and engagement with trade associations and the recruitment of early-career talent and people from colleges and universities.
Ahuja said her agency also uses this leap jump as a way to learn more opportunities to improve the federal hiring process on a permanent basis. She stressed that the government’s announcements of “shared certificates” coincided with the administration’s ongoing work to update candidates’ assessments, although she noted that some obstacles to rapid federal recruitment, such as frequent congressional flirtations with government suspensions and Appropriations for full year legislation months in a fiscal year are out of the hands of agencies.
“There’s a mix of what we can do collectively, there’s a little bit about planning, and I think most of all is inherent in that, because we’ve had such leadership attention on that effort. [to implement the infrastructure law]”I think everyone was involved,” she said. “Usually when you think about hiring, it’s kind of in one segment of the agency, but if you want to be able to do the things that are important to the American people that we’re asked to do, it really requires some kind of wholesale effort. agency. . . Especially for OPM, we saw this as a real model for us, putting these Tiger teams up and using every aspect of the agency, from oversight through policy to human resources decisions, to say, “Let’s touch on all these parts of the agency in support agencies. “
You can hear our conversation with OPM Director Kieran Ahuja on Thursday’s episode of GovExec Daily.