IRS hiring response time could still be faster, despite progress, IG finds

The Internal Revenue Service has improved the speed of its hiring process during the last couple of years but could still do more to expedite new hires, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said Wednesday.

The findings were based on an audit of the IRS hiring process that TIGTA completed in late August, and the IRS already has carried out the report's recommendations.

A large number of the tax collecting agency's 107,000 employees will be retiring or leaving to pursue other jobs in the next few years, the report noted. In the past, the IRS' Human Capital Office managers would typically take several months to hire new employees. The average timeline for hiring ad hoc employees, however, decreased from 157 calendar days in June 2009 to 130 calendar days for fiscal 2010.

The Office of Personnel Management holds a governmentwide end-to-end hiring standard of 80 calendar days, which it expects agencies to work toward but not always meet.

"As long as their efforts are accompanied by due diligence, the IRS is moving in the right direction by taking steps to reduce the amount of time necessary to fill vacancies," Inspector General J. Russell George said in the report's accompanying press release.

Like many other federal agencies, the IRS is struggling with how to appoint the most qualified personnel in a manner timely enough to avoid deterring applicants. A faster hiring response time helps reduce the odds that talented applicants will become discouraged and accept other jobs before the hiring process has ended.

The report noted that despite shorter hiring response times, managers were not using the IRS' new Career Connector automated computer system to its full potential -- partly because the software was implemented too fast across all IRS departments and without adequate user training.

The inspector general suggested the IRS increase hiring efficiency through improved agencywide training on how to use Career Connector. The IRS responded positively to this suggestion and has completed the remaining human capital management training.

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