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.

Article title
Source: GAO analysis of BOEM and BSEE hiring data.

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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Micah  |  April 30, 2014
If you want to grow professionally in the field of petroleum engineering, and to get compensated in line with your peers, then avoid government jobs. Petroleum engineers in the government sector arent looked upon as equivalents by their industry peers, technically speaking. If government work is in your career path, then I recommend getting experience in the private industry first, and for a minimum of 10 years. 10 years of industry experience is far more valuable to the government than 10 years of government experience.
Matt  |  April 10, 2014
Plus, these jobs pay horribly. I got a job offer from BSEE out of school and it was less than half of what an entry level engineer makes at an oil company.
Keith Patton  |  April 03, 2014
Having been in the petroleum industry for over 34 years as a geologist, I can say that only one time did I consider working for the Federal Government. The red tape associated with merely applying for a federal job was such that I abandoned my one an only attempt as not worth the effort. Federal employment is the refuge of last resort, and I feel that a lot of people took sanctuary in goverment employment to insulate themselves from cyclic the ups and downs of employment in the petrolum industry and not by any desire to do public service.

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