Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why the Feds Can't Hire

Some recent stories on NPR pointed out that when the federal government shows up at a job fair, it's tables are packed with bright young grads, and now older folks, looking for a stable, decent paying job. CIA, FBI and DOD are the top of the list for government job seekers, according to these reports.

As promised, I want to share some insider info with you all. Let me start by saying that the Obama Administration is trying very hard with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reform and streamline government hiring. So things may improve. But why was this necessary to begin with?

In some ways, private industry has some of the same problems as government. But it in government it takes too long to get a new employee and it takes just as long if not longer to get rid of a poor performer who will file frivolous lawsuits and EEO complaints. (I'm waiting for the Burqa clad to start filing.) This has made contractors very attractive. They hire fast and take on the liability and risk of employees, which they manage to dispense with very quickly.

1. To hire, you must first have an open slot which requires multiple levels of approval. If you have to create a new job descrioption, you must research it, and get the Dept. of Labor to bless it and a competitive salary for it. And for all those who like to claim that govenrment employees get paid too much, here is the pay scale for government jobs . I will post on this fallacy later.

2. Because there is no mandatory retirement, existing job slots remain occupied, sometimes with unproductive people. So my organization has about 100 people over the age of 70 occupying jobs. Because the work we do is not physically demanding, people often stay way beyond their usefulness. You don't give poor appraisals to these people because if you do, you will get hit with an with age discrimination EEO, which will result in the manager spending hours with lawyers only to end up with an out of court settlement that requires giving the old guy his job back plus a bunch of money. The lawyers who work for us rarely agree to go to court and when they do, they rarely win. We have truly bad lawyers. So the tax payer foots the bill as do current employees who see their organization's budget slammed with all these suits. My organization is a canary in the coal mine. Expect to see this problem more and more as the Boomers choose or are forced to stay employed.

3. Let's say you wind your way through the bureaucracy and get a new job slot. Now you call your personnel office that resides three states over. They will send you a list of potential candidates with computer generated resumes that are the result of a key word search in The list is ranked for you based on some obscure point system that heavily favors veterans. I have no major objection to this, except that many are not really qualified to do the work. Too bad. Gotta take the veteran or at least interview him. It used to be that you had to hire from the top three on the list. They did away with that rule, thank goodness.

4. The interview: never face-to-face, always by phone because "you might disciminate" as one manager was told. "I will," he responded. "I will not choose the person who has tattoos and 10 nose rings." We are way beyond racial discrimination now. No one cares about race or gender or even sexual preference. We really just want clean cut, literate, and drug free.

The result of this is that it breeds corruption among managers. I know Jane Doe. Jane is very qualified, but she isn't a veteran. So she probably won't make it on my list. So I write the job description with very carefully drawn discriptors and I tell Jane which ones to use when she inputs her resume on This way, she comes up on the list before the rest. If she doesn't come up, I close the job isting. Adjust it, and try again- like fishing. Hey, you do what you gotta do.

5. Let's say you follow all the rules- no corruption, and get an what you hope is an OK person. By now, you are 1 year or more into the hiring process.

6. Now the person gets a 1 year probation. This means that if the person doesn't show he can do the job, you have to do everything in your power to document and attempt to train this person to do the job. If he still can't do the job, you can fire the person, but only the lawyers agree you have sufficient documentation. You are now two years into the process. You haven't gotten decent work from the hire. And the newly fired person, disgruntled, files an EEO or a lawsuit, calls the VA,a congressperson, etc.

EEO has run amok. As LTG implies in his post on the Burqa, almost anything is an excuse to file and EEO. What really frightens me now is that courts are admitting genetic evidence , I start to wonder if next we will see EEO complaints based on genes. As a hiring manager, this thought just creeps me out.

So woe to thee if you are a government manager or a prospective job candidate for that matter.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The blamee on government lawyers is well deserved. In an adversarial system of justice, it is their job to defend the interests of the government which is in reality, after all, way more powerful than a poor job-seeker. Failure to defend against bad claims encourages bad claims - this is true in the law and in every possible setting.

Bad lawyering is a source of many ills, as is unreasoning terror of "liability."

USwest said...

Just a follow up: i explained how govn't managers work the system to hired people. Just recently,the office of special counsel punished two government HR people for "pre-selecting a candidate.

Looks like things are getting more serious.

Also here is a good article on what government employees thing of the hiring process: