Earl Rice


I have added the references from 5 USC and 5 CFR for those that are not recruiters/staffers.

This is rather long, but bear with the Rules of Law for the Federal HR Staffing Process:

Response to 1. I would like to know which agencies post their vacancies on Facebook, Linkedin, etc.?

Casting a wider net? Anyone that wants a job in the Federal Government already knows USAJOBS is the place to go. Why add more burden to an already overburdened system? As I have stated over and over, having a highly qualified applicant pool is not a problem. And bluntly, we are not losing applicants to the private sector because they aren’t hiring either. Oh, they may be posting announcements to increase their resume pools, but actual hiring is very limited at best (they are all scarred about what will happen in January and February, it is just not the time for major expansions in the private sector). And, the goal of the hiring reforms in 2010 was to have one place (not 2 or 3), where applicants could go and search for jobs. Note: Historically, before the President directed the changes in the hiring processes 3 years ago, each Agency had their own hiring system, none of which were compatible, or even in the same formatting (ie. if you applied for an Army job, it was one format, Air Force had another, Navy had DONAR, Interior had their own and Park Service another, on and on, and each wanted a slightly different formatting of the application, and all were very tedious to apply for a job). I ask, is Joe I. Wantafederal job, going to go to each Facebook page, for each facility, in each Agency, to look for a job, when they can go to USAJOBS, and in one place see them all? When I was looking for a promotion, I didn’t just suddenly wake up one morning and decide I wanted to work at NOA over in Spring Hills and go to their Facebook page or wake up and decide to work for Census in over in Suitland. I went to USA JOBS and looked for the all the potential jobs and decided which ones I was interested in and which ones I weren’t. I am also very leery of Linkoden. They are a non-governmental agency, and their security is not noted for being the best (ergo, they have been hacked a lot). Linkoden may be good for the private sector, even for contractors, for building networks (maybe), but I question it’s use for the Federal Civil Service. As a Staffing Specialist, I would have to vote no on Facebook and Linkoden. Linkoden is good for building networks (as is Govloop), but when it comes to the hiring processes, how big you Linkoden network is has no influence on making a certificate of eligables or not. And, if a HR Specialist gets caught allowing the information on Linkoden or Facebook to influence them, they will be at least end up with a written reprimand if not an unpaid vacation for a couple of weeks at home.

Response to 2. Veteran hiring:

Preference eligables include Veterans, displaced government employees, widows of Veterans, Former Peace Corps, etc. In short, disabled Veterans automatically go into the top Category and you cannot bypass a preference eligible (Veteran) to select a non-preference eligible [non-Veteran]. Disabled Veterans will automatically go to the top of the list in order of their score, even if their score is 70 (meet basic eligibility qualifications) I could go into further, and prove this in 5 USC and 5 CFR, but to bypass a 30% or more Disabled Veteran to get to a non-Veteran, requires OPM approval. You must prove to OPM that the disabled Veteran is not physically capable of doing the work of the position with reasonable accommodations (this is very difficult to prove), even if their ranking score is a 70, which means they meet basic eligibility requirements only.

For light reading:

5 CFR 302.303

(d) Order of entry. An agency shall enter the names of all applicants rated eligible under § 302.302 on the appropriate list (priority reemployment, reemployment, or regular employment) in the following order:

(1) When candidates have been rated only for basic eligibility under § 302.302(a).

(i) Preference eligibles having a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more (designated as “CP”) unless the list will be used to fill professional positions [in this context it is like engineers in 800 series career field] at the GS-9 level or above, or equivalent;

(ii) All other candidates eligible for 10-point veteran preference;

(iii) All candidates eligible for 5-point veteran preference; and

(iv) Qualified candidates not eligible for veteran preference.

(5) Unranked order. When numerical scores are not assigned, the agency may consider applicants who have received eligible ratings for positions not covered by paragraph (b)(4) of this section [ergo, scientific positions] in either of the following orders:

(i) By preference status. Under this method, preference eligibles having a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are considered first, followed, second, by other 10-point preference eligibles, third, by 5-point preference eligibles, and, last, by nonpreference eligibles. Within each category, applicants from the reemployment list will be placed ahead of applicants from the regular employment list

Category Ranking and Rating

Title 5 USC, PART III, Subpart B, Chapter 33, Subchapter 1, 3319,

(a) The Office, in exercising its authority under section 3304, or an agency to which the Office has delegated examining authority under section 1104 (a)(2), may establish category rating systems for evaluating applicants for positions in the competitive service, under 2 or more quality categories based on merit consistent with regulations prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management, rather than assigned individual numerical ratings.

(b) Within each quality category established under subsection (a), preference-eligibles shall be listed ahead of individuals who are not preference eligibles. For other than scientific and professional positions at GS–9 of the General Schedule (equivalent or higher), qualified preference-eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more shall be listed in the highest quality category.

3. Applicant Management: OPM requires a very complicated system to ensure that the occupational assessment in USA Staffing is tied directly to the requirements of the job. This process includes management. You are limited to what is in the position description and the qualification standards. If it isn’t in the position description, or the OPM qualifications standards (or like documents in other Merit Systems), you can’t ask for it on the occupational or eligability assessments. This limitation is from a Civil Rights Case that went before the Supreme Court back in the 60’s (I can look it up to provide the details if needed). Further, the occupational assessment does not determine qualified, but how well qualified. The eligibility assessment, now that is a different animal. It will ask question like can you type, do you have the degrees required by the OPM (or other like Agency) qualifications standards, are you a US Citizen, will you submit to a background investigation, etc. If the qualification standards do not require a degree, then you can’t require a degree. If a disabled Veteran passes through all the basic eligibility requirements, they are given a 70 and go to the top of the list. They can’t be bypassed without an exception to policy (which requires proving that they can’t physically do the job, with reasonable accommodations, which is hard to do for almost all white collar jobs, ergo “office conditions and predominantly sedimentary”). (This does not apply to Internal Merit Promotion announcements, but non-status people can’t apply for them anyway, so this process is also a moot point in this context.)

Notification in USA Staffing. There are certain touch points required by OPM and built into USA Staffing. When an applicant applies for a job in USAJOBS, USA Staffing will send an e-mail that the application has been received (required by law). When the applicants are rated out, those that make the certificate and are referred and those that don’t are notified (required by law). Then the interview stage, which naturally, those that are interviewed know it. Once a selection is made, those that weren’t interviewed or were interviewed but weren’t selected, are notified (required by law). Statistically, this later part takes the longest period of time (though, with Vet preference, the selection is limited within the confines of Veterans Preference, but management will still sit on the certificate of eligables for weeks, hoping the Vets will just magically go away, which they won’t).

Where to improve the process:

  1. Applicant rating, and this is tied to how fast your computer is and how fast the network is. Regrettably, everyone I have talked to in my Agency and others, state that the network connections and the ram/cpu speed of their computers are the culprits here that are creating the bottle neck. To eliminate this bottle neck will require infrastructure upgrades, which just aren’t in the budgets right now (and probably won’t be for a long while as we face another shutdown come January as well as phase 2 of sequestration…our elected officials just can’t seem to agree to anything). I don’t know why [in absolute frustration], but when it comes to upgrading computers, leadership decides that HR is always dead last to get the upgrades. Reducing the number of applicants artificially by shortening the period of the announcement, manipulation of the announcement, etc., is counterproductive to getting the best applicant pool. And to fix this is way beyond the pay grade of anyone here. We can talk about it, make lists of what should be done, but until the senior leadership at appointed levels make this a priority, it just isn’t going to happen. [Like I will just hop onto a plain to DC, and waltz into “The” Secretary’s office, and tell them what needs to be done.]
  2. The use of Social Network is counter productive to a Merit System. Writing better assessment questions is a moot point if disabled Veterans apply. You can have the absolute perfect occupational questionnaire, but if you get an eligible disabled Vet, all they have to do is put down the know nothing about the job, and still go to the top of the list and can only be bypassed by an exception to policy granted by OPM. [Personally, I think this is rightly so, they have already paid for this privilege ten times over.]

So here we have it. The realities are the need for allocation of major resources by people way beyond our pay grades, that very well may be gone in a couple of years (or may just give up and resign before such) during a time of limited budgets and unknown funding past January. This is not an easy fix, and to think that putting together a short list to fix it is, is naive at best.