That brings up a very good point about allocating the appropriate resources to the hiring process. My section is down 2 people. And, in accordance with the “government standard for HR”, we should have 6 more employees in staffing (this is in addition to the 2 vacant positions). [As a side note, my Agency was not affected by the budget shortfall, it was business as usual. And every potential applicant in the area knew that, to include the ones at the other Agencies in the area that were furloughed.] But, back on topic, ultimately, HR always takes the reductions first (and then management wants time to hire reduced). I have seen that in 3 different agencies. When economies must be found, they invariably take them in HR first (and in the field, not inside the beltway). Adding insult to injury, we are authorized no overtime, end of statement. So we work extra for compensation time that is if we want to keep up. And if we use it we fall behind, and if we don’t use it we lose it.
What I have observed that is very interesting, as the HR Specialist become eligible for retirement, they bolt. It’s as if they second they can retire, they do. (3 years 2 months and 7 days…not that I am counting).
Though I have to say, I am not running short of highly qualified applicants. But, I staff for healthcare professions and the #1 large high complexity hospital in the area terminated (not laid off, but terminated) over 2500 employees (something about overcharging Insurance Companies and Medicare for services not provided and having to pay back millions and millions of dollars by 1 January 2014, and there is the rumor that as many as another 1000 may get terminated). Also affecting the target rich environment, the Affordable Care Act also has non-Federal Medical Centers running scared (the law shifts the profitability from large Medical Centers to the small local Primary Care Providers). Thus, I have no issues with finding highly qualified applicants, especially at and below the GS12 or equivalent level. The only issue is wading through all of the applicants to find the top 30 or 40 applicants and deciding who will get referred and will not.
Now on the analytics part…… Currently in USA Staffing, it is very easy to skew the results however you want to ensure compliance with the 80 day or 60 day model or whatever day model is used. One of our sister facilities is making the day goal 100%, but they are conspicuously leaving out certain pieces of data in USA Staffing that would allow cross referencing to the other personnel action systems we use (which are harder to “ensure” compliance in). Not saying they are cheating, but when you turn in 100% compliance, it just looks strange. I know of another facility that will open an announcement for internal agency employees for 3 weeks, and then during the last 2 or 3 days, will update USAJOBS to reflect all other categories of applicants may apply (this cuts down the outside applicants to almost nothing), and USA Staffing will reflect that everything is perfectly OK to the statisticians, until you start looking at the “eaches” and you realize they are violating Merit Principles for open and fair competition.
But ultimately, and I had this discussion with an HR GS 15. The ultimate hiring times are not going down. From the time there is the need for an employee to be hired, until the time that applicant shows up on the first day of work to become an employee, there is no change. It’s just that the Agencies are “gaming” the processes so they appear to be meeting the goals to the statisticians that are counting the days. I will say, I have been at this “numbers game” a long time (30 years now I think, no it’s 32), and know there are more than a hundred ways to make the “stats” look good, ways that the people keeping the analytics would never know, and to make the people inside the Beltway smile (because if it looks like you are making your goals, nobody is going to question how you do it).