The Coalition for Effective Change (CEC) is an alliance of
non-partisan associations representing current and former federal
executives, managers, and professionals. The 30 organizations that
constitute the CEC, with a combined workforce and membership of
more than 600,000, came together in 1993 to provide a voice for
reform in the federal government.
In July 2010, the CEC convened a special event forum to discuss
current workforce challenges and opportunities for federal
supervisors. The event focused on three key issues
- implementing flexible work arrangements
- training the next generation of federal leaders
- reforming the federal hiring process.
Implementing Flexible Work Arrangements
In a discussion of agency experience in flexible work arrangement
implementation, organizations as diverse as the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office (PTO), U.S. General Services Administration (GSA),
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), and Senior Executives
Association (SEA) commented about positive experiences they have
had with flexible work arrangements.
For example, PTO, GSA, and NTEU have established successful
telework programs available for and used by many employees. Both
supervisors and employees are provided training about how the
telework program should work and what to expect. Clear expectations
for customer service are set up front.
Many agencies no longer need to provide office space and equipment
for every employee, because participants receive laptops to work
from home or nearby worksites and use shared space on the days they
come into the office. Savings from reduced office space needs are
then redirected to hire more telework employees.
Additionally, teleworkers participate in office meetings through
conference calls. For town hall meetings, teleworkers may
participate using virtual meeting software such as Adobe Comment.
Typically, teleworkers are expected to work when offices are closed
for emergencies, such as snow storms.
Recent Senate and House bills on telework provide clear examples of
how good telework programs are supposed to work. The Senate measure
(S. 707), sponsored by Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and George
Voinovich, R-Ohio, passed in May 2010, and the House version (H.R.
1722) passed with a simple majority in July.
Training the Next Generation of Federal Leaders
Participants joined in a discussion led by the Center for
Government Leadership at the Partnership for Public Service (PPS)
about training the next generation of federal leaders. Speakers
from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Federal
Executive Institute (FEI) described the importance of training
supervisors to become leaders.
A big challenge for training leaders is the lack of an assured
training budget for agencies. This means agencies must be creative
in finding ways to provide necessary leadership training for agency
employees as they become supervisors.
Leadership is a number one concern with respect to improving
employee performance, and government managers lag behind their
privatesector counterparts in this area. Too often, supervisory
training is simply an information dump and lacks meaningful
information about leadership. Government, like the private sector,
needs leadership training on a continuum from supervisor, to
manager, to executive. Most agree that leadership training should
be provided both in the office and classroom setting, and online.
Also, training should very much center on building relationships.
Interagency collaboration is an important part of leadership
development, and agencies can invite leaders from other agencies to
share ideas. Moreover, individuals need to take responsibility for
their own training and development, and employees need to feel free
to ask for coaching and leadership development support. To ensure
accountability for training, agencies should work to align training
goals with agency goals and mission.
Efforts to Reform the Federal Hiring Process
The Partnership for Public Service led a discussion about efforts
to reform the federal hiring process, with participation from the
Senate Committee on Oversight of Government Management and the U.S.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
There is general recognition in and out of government that the
federal hiring process is not what it needs to be. Currently, the
process is too complicated and takes too long, and a May 2010
Presidential memorandum put top-level emphasis on reforms in this
area. Gradually, agencies are streamlining job announcements by
asking for rsums rather than a detailed list of knowledge,
skills, and abilities. OPM is encouraging this approach, and
agencies dont need to wait for its permission to proceed.
Senate and Congress members on government oversight panels have
been supportive of these efforts, and agencies need to acknowledge
the status of applications for applicants. Also, agencies need to
measure the time it takes to hire and to measure manager
satisfaction with the quality of applicants referred to them.
Applicants continue to find frustration with the practice of
posting job vacancies when an agency knows it is planning to
promote someone in the organization. Agencies can limit vacancy
announcements to internal candidates when they seek to give someone
a merit promotion. And public notice requirement in law seems at
times to be interpreted too broadly to be practical.
One way for agencies to speed up the hiring process is to get their
position descriptions and classification work done before the
vacancy occurs so they are ready to post a vacancy immediately.
Managers need to be actively involved in the hiring process to
identify job requirements correctly, write accurate job
announcements, and find quality applicants. Hiring should not be
left solely to human resources.
Intern programs are an excellent way to bring good people into
federal service. However, agencies have used the Federal Career
Intern Program as a way around regular hiring procedures. It is
claimed that nearly one-half of federal hires in some agencies in
recent years have been under this program. Another path is for OPM
to pull process action data from USAJOBS and send results to agency
officials, as well as for OPM to post results on Facebook and
Twitter. For OPM hiring reform information, visit
Meaningful change to simplify and accelerate the hiring process
appears to be underway. There is good reason to be optimistic about
the future of the federal hiring process.