Federal Recruiting

College Placement Officials' Views of the Government's Campus Outreach Efforts Gao ID: GGD-92-48BR January 31, 1992

During the past several years, considerable attention has been focused on the inability of federal agencies to compete with the private sector in attracting top college graduates. Studies by GAO, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and others have pointed to a lack of aggressive campus recruitment as one cause of the government's problems. To get information on federal campus recruiting in 1991, GAO surveyed placement officials at 40 randomly selected colleges and universities. Most of these officials said that while their students were interested in learning about federal employment opportunities, they might have been disappointed had they expected to meet with a number of recruiters representing different federal agencies. Twenty of the 40 officials said that federal agencies made the same number of campus visits in 1990-91 as they had during the previous academic year. Of the rest, more than twice as many said that the number had decreased rather than increased. Furthermore, the bulk of visits were made by a comparatively small group of agencies. GAO found that the most active private companies made more campus visits than the most active federal agencies. For example, 21 private companies each visited 17 or more schools, a number matched by only two federal agencies. Surprisingly, nearly one-third of the placement officials had not heard of OPM's current examinations for entry-level professional and administrative jobs, even though they have been offered since June 1990.

GAO found that: (1) 35 placement officials reported that graduating seniors were either very or generally interested in meeting with federal recruiters; (2) 5 of those 35 placement officials added that some students were only interested in certain agencies and 3 placement officials believed that the recession had helped increase student interest in federal employment; (3) 24 placement officials believed that recruitment materials that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal agencies provided to their schools were either generally or very effective, 9 officials believed that the materials were either generally or very ineffective, and 7 other officials believed that the materials were neither effective nor ineffective or were not sure; (4) 21 officials indicated that the number of campus visits by federal agencies during the 1990-91 academic year was no greater than in 1989-90; (5) the most active private companies made more campus visits than the most active federal agencies; (6) even though OPM has been offering the Administrative Careers with America (ACWA) examinations since June 1990, nearly a third of the placement officials stated that they had not heard of the examinations; and (7) the officials' lack of familiarity with ACWA examinations could be attributed to the high turnover rate among placement officials and the fact that material may have been routed to placement counselors rather than placement directors.

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