It seems there are 3 discussions going on at once here with people talking past each other at times.
1. How can Federal agencies compete with the private sector to recruit the best available talent.
2. How can young people interested in a career with the federal government get in?
3. What exactly are the regulations and should they be changed?
The questions are related but not identical.
1. Federal agencies can best compete with the private sector for the best available talent by clearly understanding and articulating their staffing needs in a transparent easy to understand process. Let people know up front exactly what you need and exactly how the selection process works. It would also be a good idea to focus on vets. By and large, they ARE millennials, with superior training, experience, demonstrated expertise and social media skills equal to or better than their generational counterparts. Many of them already have security clearances and have proven they can get the job done under enormous pressure. Realistically, these applicants are highly likely to be at the top of any selection list with or without additional preference.
2. Young people interested in a career with the federal government should start with the Military, Peace Corps or VISTA. Successful completion of a single tour of duty with any of these (and the latter two do not have physical restrictions on applicants) allows individuals to apply for federal employment through the Status Employees lists rather than the all US list. The commitment periods are relatively short (although not to an impatient 20 something) and they have great educational benefits as well. I have been consistently amazed at the people who spend 3-8 years complaining about the preferences in the federal hiring system. If they had spent the same time with any of these programs, two of which do not have physical requirements, these same individuals would be part of the privileged group they complain about.
3. Yes the regulations are broken. No we cannot change them at this time. Idealism is nice but many shortfalls of the current system are embedded in black letter law. They can only be corrected through legislative action by Congress and the President. In the current environment, progress is unlikely. Even mechanical issues such as limited IT support will be difficult to address for the next few years. These issues will be addressed and corrected in time. The world will not end in the interim. Well run federal agencies and wise applicants will keep their chins up and carry on.