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Senate Holds Hearing to Critique Government Hiring Issues

The Senate held a hearing Tuesday to examine the efficiency with which the federal sector hires new college graduates, citing long-held concerns regarding the government’s hiring system.

With various complaints regarding the government’s USAJOBS website, including a lengthy application process that fails to recruit even top applicants, hiring advocates took to the floor to address their concerns at the Senate hearing on “Inspiring Students to Federal Service.”

“There is a substantial amount of anecdotal evidence on how abysmal graduate students’ experience with USAJobs.gov has been, in terms of feedback and communication to applicants as well as overall hiring success,” Laurel McFarland, executive director of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, argued. “Even our top-ranked member schools report that few, if any, of their graduates have ever been contacted for an interview based on an application submitted through USAJobs.gov. The vast majority of graduate students hired in recent years have entered federal service through excepted hiring.”

Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the federal workforce subcommittee, reported improvement in recent months, citing a 2010 presidential memorandum on a faster hiring process and a December executive order on revamping federal internship programs as examples.

Still, the problems regarding the ability of applicants to get their foot in the door as federal employees remain very real.

“The bad news is that our system of federal government hiring will drive most of them [master’s and doctoral students] away and is unlikely to find and select the most able among them,” David T. Ellwood, dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said in his submitted testimony. “Any sizable private business that hired employees in the way the federal government does would have gone out of business long ago.”

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