OPM launches tool to cut red tape in hiring

OPM chief John Berry is trying to make federal hiring more efficient. OPM chief John Berry is trying to make federal hiring more efficient. Russel A. Daniels/AP

The Office of Personnel Management has launched a tool to reduce the hiring process for certain federal jobs by three weeks.

In an April 7 memo to chief human capital officers, OPM Director John Berry announced the creation of shared databases, called registers, for the most common job openings in federal government, ranging from technology to security.

"There are over 100,000 great applicants on these registers, and I urge you to request certificates as soon as possible," the memo said.

Berry has made creating such centralized registers of applicants for frequently filled positions across government a top priority. He set aside part of OPM's budget in June 2009 to help create the databases, noting it made little sense for candidates to file multiple applications for essentially the same jobs at other agencies.

The registers cover jobs in 14 top categories, including financial management, human resources, office support and IT. When agencies need to fill a position in one of those categories, they can notify OPM, without having to issue a job announcement. OPM then will sort through the registers to find candidates who meet the qualifications for the position, rate them by veterans' preference, and return a list of candidates to the agency, sorted by preference points and qualifications. Berry's memo pledged to turn around those lists within three business days.

The new tool is Berry's latest attempt to make the federal hiring process more efficient. In January, OPM rolled out a streamlined USAJobs.gov, and has been working with agencies to write simpler job descriptions for the most frequently filled positions. Berry also has submitted a package of more expansive hiring reforms to the Office of Management and Budget, and is waiting for approval before moving forward with legislative proposals and regulatory changes.

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