Pathways Program Proves Underwhelming

Monday, June 9, 2014

A recent story on Federal News Radio examines how agencies are failing to take advantage of the Pathways internship program. In “Agencies Struggle to Adjust to New Pathways Internship Program,” executive editor Jason Miller, who spoke to several federal leaders, reports that agencies are still figuring out how to use the program and adjust to the new guidelines that were established in 2012.

Miler explains how a recent survey from the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton shows that  OPM has a long way to go to change the view of Pathways. The survey of the 62 CHCOs and other federal HR leaders found 47 percent said they are not using the Pathways program or using it only to a limited extent.

According to survey respondents, the most repeated criticism stemmed from one particular item: the requirement mandating that agencies accept applications from all sources, regardless of agency need or circumstance. "The problem there is the volume of applications," reports Federal News Radio. "One CHCO told the survey more than 30,000 applications for 10 jobs were received when they were each posted for only five days."


Likewise, another source told Miller that one issue with the Pathways program is the perception that agencies don’t need to target the job descriptions or candidates because the internships are entry-level positions. According to that leader, “Any of you who have tried to hire, even GS-5s or GS-7s into a finance program or into an IT program know that's not true. You still want someone with some combination of educational and work experience coming in."

Adding to the challenge are changes to the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, which is a “significant benefit that agencies need to take more advantage of to bring in highly-qualified employees.” For example, Mike Casella, CFO at the General Services Administration, tells Miller that "it was a huge mistake for OPM to get rid of the interview process for the PMF program.”

To learn more, read the full story on the Federal News Radio website.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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