The Biden administration prioritized hiring at a number of understaffed civilian agencies in 2023.

The Biden administration prioritized hiring at a number of understaffed civilian agencies in 2023. Catherine McQueen / Getty Images

5 places where the White House prioritized 2023 hiring 

To meet the increasing demand for government services and operational needs, the Biden administration targeted hiring surges at several agencies in 2023.

The federal government spent much of 2023 staffing up to meet an increasing demand for its services. 

From citizen-facing benefits to critical operations facing unprecedented circumstances, the Biden administration pressed staffing up some of the largest agencies in the federal government to be able to deliver. 

Veterans Affairs Department

The Veterans Health Administration hired 61,000 new employees in fiscal 2023, outpacing its goal by 17%. That came as the Veterans Benefits Administration increased its rolls by more than 20% to more than 32,000 employees. 

Those personnel gains helped the VA navigate a ground swell of demand, including 3 million more appointments than the previous year, 2.4 million benefit claims — 2 million which were processed — 6.5% growth in mental health appointments and a 4.6% increase in specialist appointments, alongside surging request for other services. 

VA officials said that while recruiting efforts will continue, they will coincide with additional employee retention initiatives to head of attrition. 


The revenue agency added 11,000 new employees by the end of fiscal 2023 in an effort to trim down an unpaid tax gap that reached $688 billion in 2021.  

IRS officials said they plan to staff the agency up to 105,000 employees by fiscal 2025, 15,000 more than this year’s total, with the majority targeted towards staff enforcement. That will help the agency as it seeks to claw back $63 billion annually in revenue from underpaid tax returns. 

That goal remains heady though, as agency officials expect to lose a third of the workforce through attrition by fiscal 2025, requiring the IRS to onboard 52,000 to stay on pace.  

State Department

The nation’s diplomacy arm sought to reverse a workforce dearth caused by understaffing by ramping up education and training resources in fiscal 2023 alongside its largest hiring effort in more than a decade. 

To aid in those goals, the State Department added a new 200,000-square-foot building on the campus of the Foreign Service Institute to provide more training and education resources. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also touted the department’s “retention unit,” which is a data-designed plan to identify attrition trends and offer current employees incentives to stay at State.


Among the agencies looking to correct workforce shortfalls was the Federal Aviation Administration, which had not had a confirmed administrator in 18 months until Michael Whitaker took the helm in October. 

During his confirmation hearing, Whitaker said that hiring as many controllers as is necessary was a top priority, alongside being able to broaden the talent pipeline by opening a second training academy for controllers. 

A recent working group found FAA must maintain more than 14,000 controllers to meet demand, compared to the 12,000 the agency is targeting under its current model and the 10,600 it had on staff.

Homeland Security Department

An unprecedented immigration crisis, coupled with ongoing fentanyl smuggling, at the Southern Border led President Joe Biden to request $13.6 billion in supplemental funding in October to hire 6,000 employees at DHS and the Justice Department.

Of those, the White House planned to add 1,600 new asylum officers for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 1,300 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 new Customs and Border Protection officers and 1,470 Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys. 

However, spending negotiations continued to play out on Capitol Hill until Congress recessed for the holidays, leaving a supplemental funding package that includes support for Israel, Ukraine and DHS in limbo as CBP has had to reassign officers to meet enforcement demands and the department running low on funds

And a bonus…

Infrastructure spending

The Biden administration had nearly completed its goal of 6,000 new employees targeted to carry initiatives in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by October.

The Office of Personnel Management said in October that agencies surpassed their goal of hiring 75% of the positions agencies will need to carry out the law by the end of fiscal 2023. Another 1,000 employees are expected to come on board next year.