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                                                       Calendar No. 373
111th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                      SENATE                         111-184



                              R E P O R T

                                 of the


                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                 S. 736

                             OTHER PURPOSES

                  May 12, 2010.--Ordered to be printed

                           WASHINGTON : 2010


               JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut, Chairman
CARL LEVIN, Michigan                 SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii              TOM COBURN, Oklahoma
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware           SCOTT P. BROWN, Massachusetts
MARK L. PRYOR, Arkansas              JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
MARY L. LANDRIEU, Louisiana          GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri           JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
JON TESTER, Montana                  LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina

                  Michael L. Alexander, Staff Director
                     Kevin J. Landy, Chief Counsel
                   Lawrence B. Novey, Senior Counsel
Lisa M. Powell, Staff Director, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
    Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
     Brandon L. Milhorn, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel
        Amanda Wood, Minority Director for Governmental Affairs
    Jennifer A. Hemingway, Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on 
  Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the 
                          District of Columbia
                  Trina Driessnack Tyrer, Chief Clerk
                            C O N T E N T S

  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................1
III. Legislative History..............................................9
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................9
  V. Estimated Cost of Legislation...................................11
 VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact.................................12
VII. Changes in Existing Law.........................................13
                                                       Calendar No. 373
111th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     111-184




                  May 12, 2010.--Ordered to be printed


Mr. Lieberman, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 736]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 736) to provide for 
improvements in the Federal hiring process, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
with an amendment and recommends that the bill (as amended) do 

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    Those seeking federal employment have long faced an opaque, 
lengthy, and unnecessarily complex process that ultimately 
serves the interests of neither federal agencies nor those 
seeking to work for them. S. 736 seeks to fix this problem by 
transforming the way Federal agencies conduct their hiring. It 
would direct agencies to improve their strategic workforce 
planning and to streamline the processes by which job 
applicants apply for vacancies and agencies fill them, and 
would require agencies to develop plans for reducing the time 
it takes to hire Federal employees, with a statutory goal of 80 
calendar days on average.

              II. Background and Need for the Legislation

    Many experts over the years have recognized that the 
Federal hiring process is not meeting agencies' needs because 
it is too cumbersome and too slow.\1\ Weak recruiting, 
unintelligible job announcements, onerous application 
requirements, an overly long hiring process, and poor 
communications with applicants deter potential candidates from 
applying and cause many of those who do apply to abandon the 
effort before a hiring decision is made. Moreover, the 
inadequacy of many agencies' strategic workforce planning 
prevents them from effectively identifying and meeting their 
hiring needs. The Committee has concluded that legislation to 
streamline and improve the Federal hiring process is necessary 
to help agencies hire the strongest candidates and to meet the 
agencies' human capital requirements. This report describes 
weaknesses in Federal hiring and how S. 736 would address them.
    \1\The Government Accountability Office has issued many reports 
highlighting shortfalls in the Federal hiring process, dating back at 
least to 1990, including Federal Recruiting and Hiring: Making 
Government Jobs Attractive to Prospective Employees, August 1990, GAO/
GGD-90-105; Human Capital: Opportunities to Improve Executive Agencies' 
Hiring Processes, May 2003 (GAO-450); Human Capital: Additional 
Collaboration Between OPM and Agencies Is Key to Improved Federal 
Hiring, June 2004 (GAO-04-797); Human Capital: Federal Workforce 
Challenges in the 21st Century, March 2008 (GAO-07-556T ). See also 
Report of Senator Fred Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on 
Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate, on Management Challenges 
Facing the New Administration, S. Prt. 106-62, 106th Cong., 2d Sess. 
(October 2000), at pp. 21-23, 27 (detailing the slow and inadequate 
hiring process and recommending that agencies undertake comprehensive 
workforce planning and take immediate action to reduce recruiting and 
hiring delays and provide better feedback to job applicants), available 
on Committee website [ public/
index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View& FileStore_id=ed881776-6679-4fb2-89da-
b95b684bd47b]; Report of Senator George Voinovich, Chairman of the 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and 
the District of Columbia of the Senate Committee on Governmental 
Affairs, Report to the President: The Crisis in Human Capital (December 
2000) (discussing various experts' observations about the Federal 
hiring process and concluding, ``There is almost universal agreement on 
the need to streamline and expedite the government's hiring 
process.''), available on Committee website at [http:// 
FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore;_id=19fabe06-b755-4afa- a5d0-

                 Problems in the Federal Hiring Process

    In January 2008, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) 
reported on the results of a survey of new Federal employees 
about their experiences getting hired.\2\ The survey found that 
the largest obstacle these successful applicants faced was how 
long it took for the agency to make a hiring decision.\3\ 
Nearly 30 percent of those hired through the competitive hiring 
process waited five months or more from application to 
hiring.\4\ The MSPB observed that it is often agencies' 
discretionary internal processes, not statutory requirements, 
that create unnecessary barriers and add to the hiring time.\5\ 
It recommended that agencies identify and address causes of 
delay, eliminate unnecessary burdens on applicants, and 
frequently communicate with job seekers to reduce the number of 
good candidates who simply lose patience and drop out before 
the long process concludes.\6\ The MSPB recommended that the 
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) work with agencies to 
develop a government-wide framework for Federal hiring reform 
and help individual agencies simplify their hiring procedures 
while ensuring merit-based hiring.\7\
    \2\U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, Attracting the Next 
Generation: A Look at Federal Entry-level New Hires, January 2008, at 
p. 54.
    \3\Id. at p. 49.
    \4\Id. at p. 50.
    \5\Id. at p. 56.
    \6\Id. at p. 50.
    \7\Id. at p. 56.
    The need to create a more efficient and effective hiring 
process is particularly pressing now, when large numbers of 
retirements in the near future will leave vacancies and skills-
gaps that agencies must fill. OPM reports that roughly one-
third of the Federal workforce, or nearly a half million 
employees, were eligible to retire at the end of fiscal year 
2009,\8\ and three to four percent of the workforce, or roughly 
60,000 employees, will retire each year through fiscal year 
2016.\9\ The Partnership for Public Service (the Partnership) 
in its annual report, Where the Jobs Are: Mission-Critical 
Opportunities for America, estimates that in the next three 
fiscal years, Federal agencies will need to hire close to 
273,000 full-time employees to fill mission-critical vacancies 
and a total of approximately 600,000 new employees government-
    \8\U.S. Office of Personnel Management, An Analysis of Federal 
Employee Retirement Data: Predicting Future Retirements and Examining 
Factors Relevant to Retiring from the Federal Service, March 2008, at 
p. 4.
    \9\Id. at 6.
    \10\Partnership for Public Service, Where the Jobs Are: Mission-
Critical Opportunities for America, 3rd ed., September 2009, at p. 2. 
``Mission Critical Positions'' are defined as ``positions considered 
crucial by agencies to fulfill their essential obligations to the 
American people.'' Id.
    To build the specialized expertise and institutional 
knowledge needed for senior-level Federal positions, the 
government must hire a large number of entry-level employees to 
create a career pipeline, especially to fill the many openings 
impending retirements will soon create. Indeed, the Partnership 
has observed that the only way Federal agencies can effectively 
meet their immediate and long-term workforce needs is by 
recruiting and hiring younger employees. Unfortunately, current 
hiring processes fail to do this adequately. Based on a fall 
2005 survey, the Partnership reported that the Federal 
government's biggest problem in attracting college graduates 
has not been a lack of interest in Federal service, but a lack 
of knowledge among college students about Federal jobs and how 
to apply for them.\11\ The Partnership conducted follow-up 
surveys and discussions and recommended a variety of relatively 
low-cost, targeted recruitment strategies, such as email 
notifications, recruitment visits by agency employees to 
campuses, and educating school faculty about the process for 
applying for Federal employment.\12\
    \11\Partnership for Public Service, Back to School: Rethinking 
Federal Recruiting on College Campuses, May 2006, at pp. 10-11, 20.
    \12\Partnership for Public Service, Making the Difference: a 
Blueprint for Matching University Students with Federal Opportunities, 
October, 2007, at pp. 5-6.
    The MSPB likewise reported in 2008 that Federal recruitment 
and hiring practices systematically depress the hiring of the 
younger candidates that are essential to building and 
maintaining the workforce.\13\ These practices include weak 
investment in recruiting, particularly on college campuses, and 
the use of applicant assessment tools--like ones requiring 
applicants to write a narrative describing how their past 
experience demonstrates their qualifications for the position--
that tend to favor years of experience over skills.\14\ The 
MSPB recommended that agencies change their recruitment and 
assessment practices in order to identify individuals who are 
best suited for particular positions regardless of age or 
    \13\MSPB, note 2 above, at pp. i, 1, and 53.
    \14\Id. at pp. 21-25.
    \15\Id. at p. 54.
    In May 2008, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia 
(OGM Subcommittee) held a hearing, entitled ``From Candidates 
to Change Makers: Recruiting and Hiring the Next Generation of 
Federal Employees,'' which highlighted a number of weaknesses 
in Federal recruitment and hiring and explored possible 
solutions. The first witness, from the Government 
Accountability Office (GAO), testified that Federal agencies' 
recruitment and hiring practices have long put the government 
at a serious competitive disadvantage in attracting and hiring 
the best candidates.\16\ The GAO witness described a multitude 
of problems: the lengthy and paperwork-intensive process, 
passive recruitment strategies, confusing vacancy 
announcements, insufficient candidate assessment, ineffective 
use of existing hiring flexibilities, and inadequate strategic 
human capital planning.\17\ Echoing the findings of the 
Partnership's 2005 survey, GAO concluded that the failure to 
reach out to college campuses resulted in missed opportunities 
to expose potential entry-level employees to information about 
Federal jobs.\18\ Other witnesses also testified to the 
difficulty in reaching young people, as well as the Federal 
government's need to provide better information online, where 
an increasing number of people look for jobs.\19\
    \16\See Statement of Robert N. Goldenkoff, Director, Strategic 
Issues, Government Accountability Office, Human Capital, Transforming 
Federal Recruiting and Hiring Efforts, (GAO-08-762T) (hereinafter 
``Goldenkoff Statement''), for hearing entitled, ``From Candidates to 
Change Makers: Recruiting and Hiring the Next Generation of Federal 
Employees,'' U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, May 8, 
2008 (hereinafter ``2008 Hiring Hearing''), at pp. 3-4.
    \17\See id. at pp. 4, 7.
    \18\See id. at p. 4.
    \19\See Statement of Dan Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of 
Virilion, Inc., for 2008 Hiring Hearing, at pp. 2-3; Statement of 
Colleen M. Kelley, National President, National Treasury Employees 
Union, for 2008 Hiring Hearing (hereinafter ``Kelley Statement'') at p. 
5 (``We believe that OPM needs to step up its marketing and outreach 
particularly to younger workers.'').
    Dr. John Crum, Acting Director of the Office of Policy and 
Evaluation at the MSPB, attributed hiring delays in part to 
unnecessary steps that agencies add to the process.\20\ Dr. 
Crum and others explained that agencies generally require all 
applicants to submit lengthy knowledge, skills, and ability 
(KSA) essays to gain even initial consideration, and that 
eliminating this requirement could significantly streamline the 
application process.\21\ Dr. Crum testified that agencies often 
make little effort to recruit candidates for vacancies, and 
that poorly written, jargon-filled, difficult-to-understand 
vacancy announcements often discourage potential applicants 
from applying.\22\ (Now, nearly two years after the hearing, 
many agencies continue to require KSA essays or response to 
lengthy questionnaires from all job applicants.) Moreover, the 
long hiring process, combined with poor communication by the 
agency with applicants about the status of their applications, 
increases the chances that those who do apply will accept other 
jobs before the agency makes a decision.\23\
    \20\See Statement of Dr. John Crum, Acting Director, Office of 
Policy and Evaluation, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (hereinafter 
``Crum Statement''), for 2008 Hiring Hearing, at p. 4.
    \21\See id. at p. 8 (stating that MSPB streamlined and improved its 
hiring by eliminating KSAs); Statement of John Gage, National 
President, American Federation of Government Employees, for 2008 Hiring 
Hearing, at p. 3.
    \22\See Crum Statement at p. 7.
    \23\Id. at p. 4; see also Kelley Statement at p. 5 (stating that 
many applicants ``wait for months and sometimes up to a year to hear 
from the agency . . . Many people get discouraged and find other 
    Yet another problem: because hiring efforts are generally 
not coordinated across government, applicants must submit and 
resubmit application materials for each vacancy, even for 
positions having the same types of duties and requiring the 
same experience.\24\ Moreover, with no standard application 
form, the same information often must be submitted multiple 
times in different formats.\25\ Dr. Crum testified that, 
according to surveys, the burdensome process is a top reason 
applicants have not applied more for Federal jobs: ``These 
respondents did not want to re-write descriptions of knowledge, 
skills, and abilities; re-write or re-format their resumes; 
respond to lengthy questionnaires; and, in general, spend an 
inordinate amount of time applying for Federal jobs.''\26\
    \24\See Crum Statement at p. 5.
    The witness testifying on behalf of OPM at the May 2008 
hearing recognized the weaknesses in Federal hiring and 
described efforts to improve it:

          We are well aware that the Federal hiring system has 
        evolved over many years into a cumbersome process and 
        hiring takes far too long. There are few of us who do 
        not have a story to tell that illustrates frustration 
        with the Federal hiring process, whether it is our own, 
        a friend's, or a neighbor's. OPM, through collaboration 
        with agencies and on our own, has instituted some 
        important initiatives to ``fix the hiring'' over the 
    \27\See Statement of Angela Bailey, Deputy Associate Director for 
Talent and Capacity Policy, U.S. Office of Personnel Management 
(hereinafter ``Bailey Statement'') for 2008 Hiring Hearing, at p. 2.

    OPM reported that it was working to create and publish 
government-wide standards for hiring, ``along with a `how to' 
guide for agencies that includes successful practices, 
templates, and scripts for communicating with applicants.''\28\ 
OPM was also working with agencies to improve workforce 
planning and to shorten and simplify job vacancy 
    \28\Id. at p. 3.
    Shortly after the hearing, in August 2008, OPM published 
its hiring reform plan, named the End-to-End Hiring 
Roadmap.\30\ This initiative was intended to foster a more 
user-friendly, less burdensome and time consuming application 
process; clear, understandable job announcements; better 
communication with applicants; and timely decision-making by 
the agencies. The Roadmap addressed the entire hiring cycle, 
starting with strategic workforce planning, recruitment of 
applicants, hiring, employee security and suitability reviews, 
and new-employee orientation, and has continued to serve as the 
foundation for the current Administration's efforts to reform 
the hiring process.
    \30\Office of Personnel Management, End to End Hiring Initiative, 
available online at [].
            S. 736's Proposed Solutions
    On March 30, 2009, Senators Akaka and Voinovich introduced 
S. 736 to establish a statutory framework for addressing the 
longstanding weaknesses in Federal hiring. The bill would 
direct each Federal agency to develop a strategic workforce 
plan and to incorporate it into the agency's overall 
performance planning under the Government Performance and 
Results Act of 1993. Under S. 736, each workforce plan would 
include hiring projections, strategies to address critical 
skills gaps, recruitment strategies to attract the best 
candidates, and plans to streamline the agency's hiring 
process. The legislation also would require agencies to develop 
ways to measure the effectiveness of their hiring reforms. OPM 
would be required, using the agency plans, to develop a 
government-wide strategic workforce plan and update it 
    S. 736 would also require agencies to simplify the 
application process and make it user-friendly. It would direct 
agencies to post brief, clear, and concise job announcements 
using plain writing. Applicants could opt to submit resumes and 
cover letters as part of an initial application, and would not 
have to include knowledge, skills, and abilities essays or 
additional supporting materials, such as photocopies of degrees 
or transcripts, with initial applications. S. 736 would also 
require OPM to offer applicants the option to join a 
comprehensive inventory of those seeking Federal employment; 
agencies could use the information in the inventory in filling 
vacancies, making it a valuable asset for both applicants and 
    Under the bill, agencies would, to the extent practical, 
have an average of 80 days from the date they identify a 
vacancy to fill it. The workforce planning efforts and 
applicant inventory required by S. 736 would help agencies meet 
this standard. Moreover, to address concerns about poor 
communication with applicants, S. 736 would require timely 
notification regarding the status of their applications. 
Applicants would receive information about the hiring process 
and estimated timeline, and would receive several notices, 
including when the application is received, when the initial 
qualification rankings are completed, and when the position is 
            Reaction to S. 736
    On May 7, 2009, the OGM Subcommittee held a second hearing 
on Federal recruitment and hiring, focusing on S. 736 in 
particular and entitled ``Uncle Sam Wants You! Recruitment in 
the Federal Government.''\31\ The first witness, OPM Director 
John Berry, stated that ``there is no other priority more 
important than making the Federal recruiting and hiring process 
as transparent, efficient, effective, and user-friendly as 
possible, from the perspective of both job applicants and the 
Federal agencies that need these critical skills in order to 
accomplish their missions.''\32\ Director Berry, who had 
recently been confirmed to the position, recognized OPM's and 
other agencies' past efforts to improve the Federal hiring 
process, but he stated that real progress will come only when 
the improved hiring practices are made mandatory:
    \31\Hearing entitled, ``Uncle Sam Wants You! Recruitment in the 
Federal Government,'' U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of 
Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of 
Columbia, May 7, 2009 (hereinafter ``2009 Hiring Hearing'').
    \32\Statement of the Honorable John Berry, Director of the Office 
of Personnel Management, for 2009 Hiring Hearing, at p. 1 (hereinafter 
``Berry statement'').

          What concerns me, though, is that while these 
        initiatives have received good press and are supported 
        at the highest levels within the human resources 
        community, they have unfortunately not permeated 
        throughout the Federal agencies, or, more importantly, 
        become a standard way of operating. Even within my own 
        agency, I find that sound human resources management 
        practices have not taken hold.
          This optional, voluntary approach to driving 
        innovative and bold changes to human resources 
        management is not working. If we are going to make any 
        real progress toward addressing what the American 
        public has requested--an easy-to-use application 
        process that both Federal managers and applicants 
        deserve and a recruiting and hiring process that brings 
        the right talent to the mission--we must engage in an 
        aggressive campaign to mandate the needed 
    \33\Id. at pp. 1-2.

    As to S. 736, the Director testified that he was still 
reviewing the bill, but that he thought it was excellent 
overall and that he planned to proceed with implementing 
essentially the same reforms administratively.\34\ (As 
discussed below, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
subsequently directed agencies to adopt some of these reforms.)
    \34\Oral testimony of the Honorable John Berry at the 2009 Hiring 
    Several witnesses discussed specific problem areas 
addressed by provisions of S. 736. For example, both Linda Rix, 
Co-Chief Executive Officer of Avue Technologies Corporation 
(which provides human resource services to some Federal 
agencies), and OPM Director Berry stressed a need to make job 
announcements shorter and less confusing for applicants.\35\
    \35\See Berry Statement at p. 4; Statement of Linda Rix, Co-CEO of 
Avue Technologies Corporations, at 2009 Hiring Hearing, at p. 6.
    Similarly, Max Stier, President and Chief Executive Officer 
of the Partnership, testified that ``at a minimum, all agencies 
should adopt a user-friendly application process (for example, 
allowing a resume to serve as an application whenever 
possible); clearly written job announcements; timely and useful 
information about the status of an application; and a timely 
hiring decision.''\36\ Mr. Stier also stated that the 
Partnership ``strongly support[s]'' S. 736, and he encouraged 
the OGM Subcommittee to make the enactment of bipartisan 
legislation a top priority.\37\
    \36\See Statement of Max Stier, President and CEO of the 
Partnership for Public Service, at 2009 Hiring Hearing, at p. 7.
    \37\Id. at pp. 7-8. See also Partnership for Public Service Press 
Release, ``Partnership for Public Service Applauds Senators Daniel 
Akaka and George Voinovich for Introducing the `Federal Hiring Process 
Improvement Act of 2009,''' March 30, 2009, available online at [http:/
    On June 11, 2009, OMB Director Peter Orszag issued a 
memorandum building on OPM's August 2008 reform plan and 
directing agencies to begin implementing many of the same 
reforms as S. 736 would require.\38\ The memorandum 
characterized the Federal hiring process as ``lengthy and 
encumbered by burdensome requirements and outdated technology 
systems.''\39\ In the memorandum, agencies were asked to map 
their current hiring processes using OPM's End-To-End Hiring 
Process Mapping, to review job announcements for critical 
occupations and write them in plain language, and to notify 
applicants of their status. The memorandum also called on 
agencies to engage the hiring managers (that is, the managers 
from offices where the successful candidates will work and who 
will make the final hiring decision), not just the human 
resources professionals, in all critical parts of the hiring 
    \38\Peter M. Orszag, Office of Management and Budget Director 
Memorandum on Planning for the President's Fiscal Year 2011 Budget and 
Performance Plans, June 11, 2009, available online at [http:// omb/assets/memoranda--fy2009/m09-20.pdf].
    \39\Id. at p. 5.
    \40\ Id.
    OPM Director Berry expressed the administration's views on 
S. 736 in a letter dated July 23, 2009, and addressed to the 
Chairman and the Ranking Member of the OGM Subcommittee. In the 
letter, the OPM Director stated:

          OPM strongly supports the principles embodied in S. 
        736--making the Federal recruiting and hiring process 
        as transparent, efficient, effective, and user-friendly 
        as possible for job applicants and Federal agencies. 
        Many of the provisions in S. 736 mirror the initiatives 
        that OPM currently has under way.
          OPM supports the intent of S. 736; but we are 
        concerned that the bill uses the legislative process to 
        mandate good agency practices that may result in 
        agencies' losing flexibility and ability to adapt to 
        change. . . . OPM is confident we can achieve the 
        intended results of S. 736 by administrative means, 
        through proper leadership, planning, measurement, 
        management, transparency, and accountability.\41\
    \41\Letter from John Berry, Director, Office of Personnel 
Management, to Senator Daniel K. Akaka and Senator George V. Voinovich, 
Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on 
Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the 
District of Columbia of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs, July 23, 2009.

    The Committee is pleased that, with Director Berry's 
leadership, this Administration appears to be making progress 
in improving agency hiring processes, in part by implementing 
policies like those required by S. 736.\42\ However, the 
Committee respectfully disagrees that the type of comprehensive 
changes that all observers agree are needed can be fully 
implemented and sustained without the type of statutory 
mandates contained in S. 736. Director Berry testified at the 
2009 hearing that he found upon his arrival that sound hiring 
practices had not taken hold even at OPM. To address entrenched 
habits that make adequate change very difficult to achieve, 
strong legislative requirements and the full weight of not only 
this Administration, but the Congress as well, are needed. 
Moreover, legislation is required to make permanent 
improvements; otherwise, the current, focused efforts to make 
progress may not be sustained, and the hiring process could 
easily be allowed to revert or regress in the future.
    \42\For example, on May 11, 2010, President Obama issued a 
memorandum to all agency heads entitled, Improving the Federal 
Recruitment and Hiring Process, requiring agencies to implement several 
key hiring reforms. Among other things, agencies must stop requiring 
job applicants to submit essays describing the applicants' knowledge, 
skills, and abilities (KSA essays) in the first stage of the 
application process, instead allowing applicants to begin the process 
by submitting resumes. Agencies will also be required to stop using the 
``rule of three,'' under which hires must be selected from the top 
three candidates. Instead, agencies must develop methods for placing 
applicants into quality categories and then choosing hires from the top 
category, enabling them to select from a pool of top-rated applicants. 
Memorandum available online at 
    The Committee is convinced that enactment of this 
legislation would strengthen the existing efforts and make them 
permanent, while maintaining ample flexibility that OPM and the 
agencies need to implement reform in the manner that best 
serves the unique and evolving situation at each agency. For 
example, in requiring that agencies prepare annual strategic 
workforce plans, S. 736 describes the contents of such plans in 
broad terms that can accommodate each agency's specific 
circumstances now and in the future, and the bill structures 
these plans as part of the overall performance planning that 
each agency must already undertake under the Government 
Performance and Results Act of 1993. Moreover, the bill would 
achieve reform by having each agency develop its own processes 
to achieve broadly stated objectives, not by imposing specific 
mandates or prohibitions. In summary, the Committee has 
determined that, to ensure essential improvements in agency 
hiring are fully implemented government-wide and are sustained 
under any future administration, the necessary management 
framework and requirements must be established in statute, as 
S. 736 would do.

                        III. Legislative History

    On March 30, 2009, S. 736 was introduced by Senators Daniel 
K. Akaka and George V. Voinovich. Senator Tom Carper 
subsequently joined as a cosponsor. The bill was referred to 
the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and 
was further referred to the OGM Subcommittee, which held a 
hearing on the bill on May 17, 2009.
    The Committee considered S. 736 on July 29, 2009. Senator 
Akaka, for himself and Senator Voinovich, offered a substitute 
amendment, which clarifies the roles of OPM and OMB in the 
development of the strategic workforce plans required by the 
bill, requires that an analysis of the contractor workforce be 
included in such plans, and makes several technical changes to 
the bill. The Committee adopted the amendment and ordered the 
bill reported favorably, as amended, both by voice vote. 
Present for both actions were Senators Lieberman, Akaka, 
Carper, Pryor, Landrieu, McCaskill, Burris, Collins, Coburn, 
and Voinovich.

                    IV. Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1--Short title

    This section titles the bill the ``Federal Hiring Process 
Improvement Act of 2009.''

Section 2--Definition

    For purposes of the legislation, this section defines the 
term ``agency'' by cross referencing the term ``Executive 
agency,'' as defined in 5 U.S.C. Sec. 105. That term includes 
Executive departments, government corporations, and most 
independent agencies in the executive branch, but section 2 of 
the bill excludes the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
from the definition for purposes of this legislation.

Section 3--Strategic workforce plan

    Subsection (a)--In General. This subsection requires the 
head of each agency, in consultation with the Office of 
Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), to develop a strategic workforce plan as part of 
the overall performance plan that agencies are required to 
prepare under the Government Performance and Results Act of 
1993. Each strategic workforce plan must include the following 
elements: (1) hiring projections by occupation and grade level; 
(2) plans to address critical skills deficiencies; (3) 
recruitment strategies to attract highly qualified candidates 
from diverse backgrounds; (4) streamlined hiring processes to 
meet the provisions of this Act; and (5) a specific analysis of 
the contractor workforce and of whether the balance between 
work performed by the Federal workforce and the contractor 
workforce should be adjusted. 31 U.S.C. Sec. 1115, which lists 
what must be included in each agency's annual performance plan, 
would be amended by this subsection to require inclusion of the 
strategic workforce plan.
    Subsection (b)--Hiring Projections. Under this subsection, 
projections made under the strategic workforce plans must be 
made available to the public, including on agency websites.
    Subsection (c)--Submission to the Office of Personnel 
Management. This subsection requires each agency to submit its 
strategic workforce plan to OPM.
    Subsection (d)--Government-Wide Strategic Workforce Plan. 
Under this subsection, based on the plans submitted under 
subsection (c), OPM must develop and annually update a 
government-wide strategic workforce plan, and must make the 
government-wide strategic workforce plan, as updated annually, 
available to the President, the Congress, and the public.

Section 4--Federal job announcements

    This section requires each agency to make several specific 
improvements in the development and distribution of Federal job 
    Subsection (a)--Targeted Announcements. This subsection 
provides that the head of each agency, in consultation with the 
Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, must take steps to 
target highly qualified applicant pools with diverse 
backgrounds, seek to develop relationships with the people in 
such applicant pools prior to posting job announcements, and 
clearly and prominently post job announcements for a reasonable 
period of time.
    Subsection (b)--Public Notice Requirements. This subsection 
clarifies that the posting requirements in subsection (a) do 
not supersede public notice requirements for Federal 
    Subsection (c)--Plain Writing Requirement. Under this 
subsection, agencies must ensure that job announcements are 
clear, concise, and well-organized and follow other best 
practices of plain writing in accordance with guidance provided 
by OMB.
    Subsection (d)--Contact Information. Job announcements must 
include contact information for applicants to seek further 
information about the vacant position and the hiring process.

Section 5--Application process and notification requirements

    Subsection (a)--Application Process. This subsection 
requires the head of each agency, in consultation with OMB and 
OPM, to develop processes to achieve several specific 
improvements in the Federal hiring process, including 
eliminating lengthy writing requirements at the initial 
application stage and allowing applicants to submit a cover 
letter, resume, and respond to brief questions to complete 
their application. Also each agency must include an agency 
hiring manager in all parts of the hiring process.
    Subsection (b)--Notification Requirements. Under this 
subsection, the head of each agency, in consultation with the 
Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, must develop 
mechanisms under which all job applicants receive timely 
notification of the status of their applications at each phase 
of the hiring process.

Section 6--Applicant inventory

    This section requires OPM to establish and keep current a 
comprehensive inventory of individuals seeking employment in 
the Federal Government. The inventory will contain information 
voluntarily provided by those applicants for employment who 
elect to have their information kept on file. The inventory 
would be made available to agencies for use in filling 

Section 7--Training

    This section requires OPM, in consultation with the CHCO 
Council, to develop a training program for agency human 
resources professionals on implementing the Act and fulfilling 
its requirements. Agencies would be required to develop a 
training implementation plan and to report such plan to OPM.

Section 8--Reduction in the length of the hiring process

    This section requires agency heads, in consultation with 
OMB, to develop plans to reduce the length of the hiring 
process. Such plans will include an analysis of the current 
hiring process, at the time of enactment of this Act, and 
performed in accordance with standards established by OPM 
before enactment. To the extent practical, agency plans will 
also require that a vacancy be filled within an average of 80 
calendar days after the vacancy is identified. This section 
further requires agencies to submit an annual report to 
Congress on the average time period taken to fill jobs, as well 
as on job vacancies cancelled or reopened.

Section 9--Measures of Federal hiring effectiveness

    This section requires each agency to measure and collect 
information on key indicators of hiring effectiveness and to 
annually report this information to OPM. The section details 
items that must be assessed, including specific aspects of the 
hiring process and the hiring managers', applicants', and new 
hires' satisfaction with the process. OPM must annually provide 
this information in a consistent format to Congress and the 
public, including making the information available on OPM's 
website. The Director of OPM will prescribe regulations on the 
methodology, timing, and reporting of the data.

Section 10--Regulations

    This section requires the Director of OPM to prescribe 
regulations to carry out the Act. The Director of OPM is 
required to consult with the CHCO Council in developing the 

                   VI. Estimated Cost of Legislation

                                                   August 20, 2009.
Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman, Chairman,
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 736, the Federal 
Hiring Process Improvement Act of 2009.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
                                              Douglas W. Elmendorf.

S. 736--Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act of 2009

    S. 736 would require all federal agencies to streamline 
their recruitment and hiring processes. The bill would require 
agencies to develop plans to identify hiring needs and 
recruitment strategies, shorten the hiring process and make it 
more applicant-friendly, maintain an inventory of all federal 
job applicants, and measure the effectiveness of those hiring 
reforms and efforts.
    Most of the provisions of S. 736 would codify and expand 
the current recruiting and hiring practices of most federal 
agencies and would not significantly increase the costs of 
carrying out those activities. The Office of Management and 
Budget requested in June of this year that agencies improve 
their hiring processes including creating timeliness, using 
plain language, and streamlining announcements and 
communications with applicants. In addition, the Office of 
Personnel Management (OPM) has designed templates and is 
providing training to assist agencies as they streamline those 
    Based on information from OPM and selected agencies, CBO 
expects that enacting S. 736 would impose additional 
requirements on agencies primarily to gather and analyze hiring 
statistics and to provide reports to the Congress. Subject to 
the availability of appropriated funds, CBO estimate that such 
activities would cost agencies about $40 million over the next 
five years ($15 million in 2010 to develop these data-gathering 
systems and smaller amounts annually thereafter to maintain 
them). Enacting the bill also could affect direct spending by 
agencies not funded through annual appropriations (such as the 
Tennessee Valley Authority or the U.S. Postal Service). CBO 
estimates, however, that any increase in spending by those 
agencies would not be significant or would be offset by 
corresponding increases in rates charged by those entities. 
Enacting the legislation would not affect revenues.
    S. 736 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would 
not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirement of paragraph 11(b)(1) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill. The 
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that there are no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and no costs on State, local, or 
tribal governments. The legislation contains no other 
regulatory impact.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the following changes in existing 
law made by the bill, as reported, are shown as follows: 
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black 
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):


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Subpart B--Employment and Retention

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Subchapter I--Examination, Certification, and Appointment

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3330. Government-wide list of vacant positions

    (a) * * *

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    (e)(1) The Office of Personnel Management shall establish 
and keep current a comprehensive inventory of individuals 
seeking employment in the Federal Government.
    (2) The inventory under this subsection shall--
        (A) be made available to agencies for use in filling 
        (B) contain information voluntarily provided by 
        applicants for employment, including--
                  (i) the resume and contact information 
                provided by the applicant; and
                  (ii) any other information which the Office 
                considers appropriate;
          (C) retain information for no longer than 1 calendar 
          (D) not include information relating to--
                  (i) the application of the applicant for a 
                specific vacancy announcement; or 
                  (ii) any other information relating to 
                vacancy announcements; and
          (E) shall provide for a mechanism to allow--
                  (i) applicants to update resume, 
                qualifications, and contact information; and
                (ii) agency officials to search information in 
                the inventory by agency and job classification.
    [(e)] (f) The Office shall prescribe such regulations as 
may be necessary to carry out this section. Any requirement 
under this section that agencies notify the Office as to the 
availability of any vacant positions shall be designed so as to 
avoid any duplication of information otherwise required to be 
furnished under section 3327 of this title or any other 
provision of law.
    [(f)] (g) The Office may, to the extent it determines 
appropriate, charge such fees to agencies for services provided 
under this section and for related Federal employment 
information. The Office shall retain such fees to pay the costs 
of providing such services and information.

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Subtitle II--The Budget Process

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Sec. 1115. Performance plans

    (a) In carrying out the provisions of section 1105(a)(28), 
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall 
require each agency to prepare an annual performance plan 
covering each program activity set forth in the budget of each 
agency. Such plan shall--
          (1) * * *

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          (5) provide a basis for comparing actual program 
        results with the establish performance goals; [and]
          (6) describe the means to be used to verify and 
        validate measured values[.] ; and
          (7) include the strategic workforce plan developed 
        under section 3 of the Federal Hiring Process 
        Improvement Act of 2009.

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