Earl Rice


The devil has always been in the details. And, most the people inside the Beltway aren’t fully aware of such, especially the people who set policy. Even outside the beltway, management isn’t aware of the details and very resistant to any laws that tell them who they can and can’t hire (i.e. There is one thing I have been going over and over with one of my service lines concerning qualifications, and they finally just accepted it a couple of weeks ago….that is after the Union rightfully tore into them and the SESer told them to knock it off or find a new job.) One of the jokes I make is “for the perfect fit to be the son of your brother” can’t be a selective placement factor nor can “The daughter of Ms. Jane over in State who is your friend” be a selective placement factor. [Reminder, I worked in the DC area for 3 years, and saw how the system worked there, and gained some good perspectives of what may be some of the issues facing our government on the day to day running basis.] I remember briefing a room full of SESers and GS 15s where I worked in DC and explaining the new Pathways Program. About how the vacancies must be announced on USAJOBS and absolute Veterans Preference would apply. You could tell they were shocked (and worried because of all the “unusual” hiring they had done). They asked why the crackdown all of a sudden, why are the processes being slowed down. I explained how an Agency (located in North Carolina), had blatantly used the FCIP to get around Veterans preference and had committed a combination of cronyism, nepotism, and so many prohibited personnel practices, that when it hit the MSPB, they went ballistic (and referred some of the instances to OSC for prosecution). And how the MSPB demanded that OPM explain why SCEP and STEP was any different than FCIP. [I actually helped one of the Veterans organization write their response when Pathways was posted in the Federal Registry.]

I will also say that the days using “networking” versus “merit” may be on the way out. A good example is the Pathways Program. Veterans Preference is so embedded in it that joe/jane college student may find it hard to sneak in the back door (unless they are a Veteran). And I have firsthand knowledge that a large number of Veterans Organizations are watching the Pathways hiring like a hawk, looking to drag an Agency into court every time Veteran’s Preference is violated (and they will provide the lawyers to do it, free). And the Unions aren’t much farther behind them on that as far as support (they hate the Pathways Program).

In some ways, everyone talks about getting the recent graduates hired. I ask why? Should we get them right out of college, no experience, little real world savvy, and even less government savvy, and try and teach them 10 years of experience in the 3 years. Or, should we let them get some experience and then come in the government. If the drive to serve thy fellow man is so high, after they get some experience, they will come back (and if they don’t, the odds are they wouldn’t have stayed with the government anyway). Also, there is the Peace Corps, and a bunch of other “Corps”, they can serve their fellow man in, gain experience, and then come back and have status to apply for jobs. I have hired 2 Peace Corps types in the last 3 months.

I also ask if it is right to push a new graduate to be a GS 12 or 13 in 2 or 3 years. Will they have the experience and be seasoned enough to handle the level of responsibility required. In DC the vast majority will not have any field experience what so ever. Will have no idea of the ramifications of what they do will have on the field. And, from my meager experiences in the DC, there is very high propensity for that.

The next concern, and almost all the Agencies are deep in this, is projected furloughs, or RIF’s that I see looming on the horizon. I projected the last round of furloughs 9 months before they happened. Yes the Debt Ceiling was raised and a continuation was granted for the government, until January and February. That storm is brewing big on the horizon, and my prediction is there will be no change politically between now and then. I ask, should we hire all the joe/jane college students, with the budget crisis looming just a few months away, and the 2d round of sequestration that has the highest probability of hitting come January? Or should we wait and see what happens. Imagine the taste in the mouths for all the “interns” that were hired in the last few summers, if suddenly they are RIFed in March.