Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is one of the bill's sponsors.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is one of the bill's sponsors. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A Bipartisan House Bill Would Set Federal Hiring Reform Measures Into Law

The Chance to Compete Act would codify recent administrative reforms aimed at incorporating skills-based assessments and stressing experience over educational attainment in the federal hiring process.

House lawmakers on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation that would codify into law several recent changes to the federal hiring process to stress applicants’ job experience and skills over educational attainment.

Reps. Jody Hice, R-Ga., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced the Chance to Compete Act (H.R. 6967), which confirms that skills-based assessments administered by agency subject matter experts are acceptable job assessments in the competitive hiring process, and allows agencies to share the assessments of qualified job applicants with one another, potentially granting an extra avenue for a candidate who wasn’t hired to get a job elsewhere in the federal government. Similar legislation in the Senate advanced out of that chamber’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month.

The bill codifies recent changes made by the Trump and Biden administrations to move toward a more experience-based hiring process that focuses more on skills assessments with subject matter experts, rather than setting the bar at what degree an applicant has in some circumstances. The reform efforts are an outcropping of successful pilot programs spearheaded by the U.S. Digital Service.

“For far too long, the federal government’s hiring priorities have focused too much on whether a candidate has obtained a degree rather than whether they actually have the skills needed to serve Americans best,” Hice said in a statement. “Congress needs to make federal hiring more effective, and our bill will remove unnecessary barriers to entry, create a more efficient and transparent process, and expand economic opportunities for all Americans.”

The old “self-assessment” approach to the federal hiring led to a long and often fruitless process. Hiring managers found that people familiar with the process, and the creation of the lengthy so-called “federal resume” could simply self-report that they were qualified, making it difficult to discern which applicants, if any, could actually succeed in a job.

“I am committed to ensuring that everyone has a fair shot at building a strong economic future for themselves and their families,” Khanna said. “There’s no reason a college degree should be required for a job if the candidate is able to demonstrate that they have the skills necessary to succeed in the role. These merit-based changes will create additional pathways into public service and foster new opportunities to attract qualified talent from all walks of life.”