When the National Nuclear Security Administration first had to replace the swell of scientists and engineers who were retiring, they had very few applicants for the positions, and almost no one who was qualified, agency officials said.
Ten months later, there has been an eightfold increase in the number of applicants, and they are "the type of applicants we dreamed about," said James Cavanaugh, deputy associate administrator for management and administration at NNSA.
The dramatic turnaround was a result of the Extreme Hiring Makeover, a program run by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that promotes government careers. The project aimed to improve the recruitment and hiring process at NNSA, the Education Department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The private sector experts recommended that the agencies reassess internal practices to eliminate unnecessary hiring steps, create a budget to attract better candidates and eliminate the barriers between hiring managers and human resources officials.
"The government doesn't have to take a back seat to the private sector when it comes to bringing in the best and brightest employees," said Marcia Marsh, vice president for government transformation at PPS. "Just like a real makeover, with discipline and commitment, great changes are possible."