Average Days to Hire Continues to Creep Up

by | Mar 9, 2018

Last Updated November 8, 2022


Several years of federal hiring improvement initiatives have done little to help the average time to hire. In FY 2017, it took agencies, on average, 106 days to hire a new employee, short of the government-wide goal of 80 days.

Mark Reinhold, associate director for employee services at the Office of Personnel Management, said the average time to hire has increased every year since 2012. Year after year, OPM has launched a new hiring program: The End-to-End Hiring Initiative in 2008, the President’s Hiring Reform Initiative, Veterans Employment Imitative, Pathways Program in 2010, Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap, ad the Hiring Excellence Campaign in 2016.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said he wanted insight into what aspects of previous hiring initiatives has achieved notable improvements. “This is not to be critical. I hope we’re making progress on it a little bit at a time to be able to chip away on it. Not every program is going to be a success. [For] some, we’re going to try it and it’s not going to work,” he said.

Lankford and Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) fear the government has lost its status as a model employer because applicants are waiting longer and longer for a federal job. “What we’re doing is not achieving the results that we think we need,” Heitkamp said. “It’s frustrating, and it’s only going to get worse as the job market gets more competitive. We are not in a spot where we are a preferred employer anymore. The days of my dad saying, ‘It [would be] great, you get a government job.’ No one says that anymore, that I know of.”

She wants agency leaders to remind their employees and their colleagues in the federal HR community that improving the hiring process deserves attention.

Angela Bailey, Homeland Security Department’s chief human capital officer said, “My recommendation is that the agencies have that authority…That when they get the resumes in, that they can actually look at these folks, they can qualify them on the spot, they can interview them on the spot and they can make tentative job offers on the spot. You’d cut out at least 6 weeks of all this back-and-forth that goes on regarding the hiring process if we could just have the authority to actually interview people and make decisions.”

Title 5 regulations on the hiring process have taken away that flexibility though.

DHS would like to see changes to the current structure for handing out recruitment and retention incentives, particularly for hard-to-fill positions at Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Heitkamp also questioned how proposals in the president’s FY2019 budget request to freeze pay and cut retirement benefits would impact agencies’’ ability to recruit and retain the best talent.

“The best recruitment we have are people who are always sitting at those desks who say, ‘You ought to do this; it’s interesting at work. I’m treated really well at work; I’m respected at work.’ When you don’t have an army of people out there recruiting –because they don’t feel valued at work and they don’t feel like there’s a future—we’re going to have more and more problems with recruitment,” she said.

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