OK, so it was a little bureaucratic just getting into the Office of Personnel Management at 19th and E streets N.W. One overworked guard was typing security passes as fast as she could, while the line of people waiting to get in just grew and grew.
Maybe the federal government could start its new hiring system by hiring enough people to work at the front desk of OPM?
But we digress.
There was really good news at OPM today, as Director John Berry said the federal government is making sweeping reforms in how it seeks out and hires federal workers. And that's no small task. The federal government hires about 330,000 new workers every year.
Gone are the cumbersome requirement that applicants write "essays" about why they want any given job. The long-form SF-171 application has already been ditched. Now potential federal workers can write a cover letter and attach a resume, just like in the business world.
Instead of applying separately at one agency and starting over at another if you don't get the first job, applicants will be "pooled" so different hiring officers can pick and choose from people already screened. Federal job descriptions -- which previously could run up to 75 pages -- will average closer to three pages.
"The message could not be more clear (that) we have a problem (recruiting)", Berry said. "Our human resource systems have been a hindrance."
Both Berry and Jeffrey Zients, a private business whiz kid brought in by President Barack Obama to help design and speed up the makeover, told reporters that cumbersome hiring policies undermine morale, chase away good people who find other jobs while they're waiting for a federal decision, and waste valuable time and energy.
The new policy, signed by Obama Tuesday morning, is geared to cut the average processing time from as much as 140 days to 80 or fewer.
Zients pointed out that about half of the one-million-plus federal workforce is eligible to retire now or soon.
"The best talent doesn't wait around for five months," Zients said.