Closing HR Skills Gaps

Addressing federal hiring and strengthening the HR community are just two of the priorities of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council going into the new year.

By Julie Davidson, cyberFEDS® Editorial Director

The Chief Human Capital Officers Council is finalizing its priorities for 2017 and the start of the Trump administration in an effort to ensure "these core concepts do not get lost during the transition," said Justin Johnson, the council's executive director.

During the council's recent annual open meeting, Johnson said there is agreement that the top two priorities will be addressing federal hiring and strengthening the HR community.

In terms of hiring, he said, the goals are to continue efforts to simplify the hiring process and "squeezing the most out of the current system," while looking at potential changes that could be made over the long term.

Strengthening the HR community itself is critical to getting federal human capital management off of the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list, Johnson told cyberFEDS® after the meeting. One of the GAO's biggest concerns, he explained, is agencies' ability to close mission-critical skills gaps. Human capital, itself, is considered a mission-critical area with skills gaps, so it is important to address this to ensure other mission-critical areas can also be tackled.

The third area, which is still a bit "fuzzy," Johnson said, will likely deal with increasing "accountability, engagement and performance" among the federal workforce. also used the final open CHCOC meeting of the Obama administration to update council members on some key initiatives, including:


Hiring excellence. OPM has held a number of forums throughout the country to promote better coordination between HR and hiring managers and more understanding of available hiring flexibilities. "Effective management of human capital is not the CHCO's responsibility," said OPM acting Director Beth Cobert. "It is the responsibility of management in their roles. They know what good performance looks like, and they need to manage that performance. They know what the needs are for a position. We can help them think about the way to source talent, good assessment tools ... and the hiring process, but we cannot be the substitute for them thinking about 'what do I need to fulfill the mission of my agency in this specific area.' "

Transforming USAJOBs from a standard job board to a "career portal." OPM has been making incremental improvements to make the site more user-friendly for both applicants and agencies, including a redesigned Help Center, a new application guide and landing center, and adding more information on pathways to federal jobs. Improved resume mining capabilities and a new search engine are planned for early next year, along with continued emphasis on effective job announcements. During her presentation, OPM's Michelle Earley stressed the importance of job announcements and included a plea that agencies no longer used the word "incumbent," since that often makes potential applicants think someone has already been selected for the position. "This is a small change that can have a big impact," she said.

Cybersecurity hiring. OPM's Veronica Villalobos said that preliminary data from September show that agencies are only a few hundred hires away from meeting the goal to hire 6,500 IT and cybersecurity professionals by January. Cobert said a recent job fair conducted by the Department of Homeland Security that enabled officials to make conditional on-the-spot job offers to IT professionals is being used as a model with the hopes of having a similar governmentwide career fair in the near future. OPM has also helped develop a cadre of cybersecurity HR professionals, and is working on direct hire authority and revised pay scales for cybersecurity professionals.

Telework. A new report on telework covering FY 2015 will be released this week. OPM's Stephen Shih said it shows that eligibility essentially remained the same in FY 2014 and 2015, with about 44 percent of federal employees eligible to telework. Participation continued to increase, with 46 percent of eligible employees and 20 percent all employees teleworking in FY 2015. In order to collect more consistent data, Shih said OPM will begin using Enterprise Human Resources Integration data to assess telework in 2017. "We still see, in many circumstances, where different agencies and sometimes different components within agencies are using varying methods and processes to track telework, so oftentimes the data is not as complete, timely or consistent as we would like to see," he said.

Efforts to "ban the box" on federal hiring. The idea is to ensure qualified individuals are not inappropriately screened out of federal employment because of a criminal record.


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Dec 6, 2016
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