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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Buck Stops With Managers on Hiring


At a Government Executive Leadership Briefing this morning, two chief human capital officers at major agencies had a fairly blunt message for federal managers: Get with the program on hiring reform. Asked what was the biggest impediment at this stage to meeting or beating the Obama administration's goal of driving average time to hire down to 80 days, both John Sepulveda of Veterans Affairs and Robert Buggs of Education pointed the finger at the managers who are ultimately responsible for deciding who they want to add to their teams.

Both Sepulveda and Buggs were quick to point out that staffers in HR offices must make sure that paperwork gets processed in a timely manner, but they said the real bottleneck is with managers who fail to act quickly enough to make decisions about open positions. Asked directly about managers who allow hiring certificates to languish on their desks, Sepulveda said he had some sympathy, knowing that there are many competing demands on managers' time. But Buggs was less conciliatory, saying managers simply need to find a way to make time for keeping the process moving. The key, both Sepulveda and Buggs said, was to hold managers accountable in the performance appraisal process for handling their hiring responsibilities.


Tom Shoop is executive vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees editorial operations at Government Executive, Nextgov, Defense One and Route Fifty. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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