Federal Hiring

Reconciling Managerial Flexibility with Veterans' Preference Gao ID: GGD-95-102 June 16, 1995

The government's ability to serve the public depends directly on the quality of the people it employs. Past studies have shown, however, that federal hiring procedures have often impeded managers' attempts to hire quality people and have frustrated federal job applicants. This report determines which federal hiring procedures are working, which are not, and whether current efforts to reform the hiring process address the needs of both agencies and applicants. GAO recommends exploring alternatives that would better reconcile managers' desire for greater discretion in the selection process with the legal requirement to provide veterans with preferences in hiring. Any alternative should be developed in consultation with representatives of veterans organizations, labor unions, and other affected parties. Any alternative tested should hold managers responsible for enhancing veterans' employment opportunities as required by law.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Agriculture initiated a demonstration project to test the feasibility of providing managers more selection flexibility, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) automated various hiring procedures, and the National Performance Review (NPR) recommended reforms to streamline the federal hiring process; (2) recent hires surveyed said they had no problem with the application process, but many felt that they waited an unreasonably long time to receive a job offer; (3) many veterans were not satisfied with the preference procedures and often did not receive enhanced employment consideration; (4) federal referral procedures allowed agencies to fill vacancies with qualified people in a timely manner, while selection procedures often did not; (5) veterans' preference procedures and the Rule of Three adversely affected timely hiring and candidate quality; (6) shortcomings with the federal hiring process increased the time needed to hire candidates and impeded agency operations; and (7) although current reform initiatives could make the hiring process more efficient, they do not balance managers' flexibility in selecting the best candidates and the legal requirement to give hiring preference to veterans.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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