Architect of the Capitol

Senate Passes Measure to Streamline Federal Hiring

Supporters call bill a win for agencies, applicants and taxpayers.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a measure to streamline federal hiring, easing agencies’ abilities to share information on applicants.

Currently, agencies with similar hiring needs cannot share assessments of applicants with each other. The 2015 Competitive Service Act, introduced by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would allow agencies to collaborate on competitive service certificates when looking to fill a position in the same occupational series and within a similar grade level.

A report on the legislation found the current process leads to “duplicative work,” as agencies looking to hire an individual another agency has already assessed must “start from scratch.” The bill would essentially create a list of pre-approved candidates for similar groupings of job openings. The Office of Personnel Management has endorsed the reform, according to the report.

Tester said the bill was a “common-sense solution,” evidenced by the lack of opposition to its passage.

“The Competitive Service Act strengthens the federal workforce while saving taxpayers money,” Tester said. “I urge the House to quickly pass this bill so we can make sure federal agencies are using an efficient hiring process.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., has introduced companion legislation in the lower chamber, but it has not yet received any action.

Lawmakers have called the reform a win-win, as applicants are more likely to get hired and agencies can choose from already vetted individuals. If an applicant, for example, was deemed qualified by one agency but was not hired because the open position only had one vacancy, another agency could leverage that evaluation to fill its own spot.

Patricia Niehaus, president of the Federal Managers Association, said the measure would improve federal recruiting efforts.

“One of the main deterrents into a federal career is the cumbersome hiring process,” Nieuhaus said. “By providing agencies with access to highly qualified candidates who already went through a rigorous assessment, the Competitive Service Act allows for greater efficiency in the hiring process.” 

NEXT STORY: Beware of Hucksters