Hiring, Retaining Staff Poses Challenges to US Interior Dept.
Lengthy Federal Hiring Process
Another key issue hindering the Interior is the amount of time it takes to hire an individual. The federal hiring process hurt the departments’ ability to fill key oil and gas positions, noted officials. For almost 90 percent of the vacancies in 2012, as reported by BLM, BOEM and BSEE officials, the federal hiring process somewhat hindered or greatly hindered their ability to hire qualified candidates.
The key issues affecting the hiring process are:
- The preparation of a job description
- Formally announcing the vacancy
- Creating a list of qualified candidates
- Conducting interviews
- Performing background and security checks
The average hiring time for petroleum engineers and inspectors at BOEM and BSEE in recent months exceeded 180 calendar days, and the average hiring times for these positions in BLM in 2012 exceeded 120 days, noted GAO’s study.
The team identified 27 action items to reduce hiring times, including standardizing position descriptions and reducing the number of managers involved in the hiring approval process. These steps reduced hiring times at the Interior as a whole from an average of 190 days in 2009 to 80 days in 2012, although hiring times for some key oil and gas positions averaged over 120 days.
“The government tends to have a lot of regulations associated with hiring that every agency has to follow, and some of these make them maybe less fleet of foot in terms of hiring compared to industry,” Rusco stated.
“Our biggest problem with Interior’s approach is that they’re not even studying their hiring process systematically. They don’t know where the time is going, and they can’t tell definitely how long it takes because they’re not tracking their hiring process. They really need to understand: where are the bottlenecks? Where are the problems? Right now they don’t know, and so we were unable to recommend fixing specific problems.”
To help reduce hiring times, the Interior participated in an OPM-led, government-wide initiative to streamline the federal hiring process. Specifically, the department formed a team composed of hiring managers and human resources specialists representing all of Interior’s bureaus to examine the departments hiring process.
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