Last week, Performance.gov, a new government website designed to allow citizens to monitor agencies’ progress in achieving performance goals, was opened to the public. While the site, run by the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, had been online for months, previously access had been limited to government employees. Now, for the first time, the general public has easy access to performance reports and employee satisfaction rating data.

One of the most interesting collections of data available on the site is the information on the federal employee hiring process. According to a survey of prospective employees at 22 federal agencies including the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security, job applicants were very satisfied with the employment application process. There was however variation between government agencies. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development achieved the best marks, scoring 8.6 and 8.5 out of 10, respectively. The Department of Transportation and Department of Energy had the worst marks, 7.3 and 7.1, respectively.

One of the largest variations between the hiring processes of different agencies was the length of time from application to hiring. Reducing the time-to-hire has been a major goal of almost all federal agencies. The fastest hiring process occurred in the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Social Security Administration, and the U.S, Agency for International Development (USAID), with the hiring process taking 75, 76, 77, and 77 days, respectively. The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security came in the middle of the pack, taking more than four months (100 and 119 days, respectively). The federal agency with the longest hiring process was the Environmental Protection Agency, taking a whopping 161 days, or more than five months.

The website also provides information on the types of candidates being hired, including the number of veteran hires. In the first quarter of 2010, 52.6 percent of new employees in the Department of Defense were veterans. The Department of Homeland Security came in 8th place, with veterans accounting for 22.8 percent. Only 8.2 percent of USAID hires were veterans.

While Performance.gov is designed to help the American public hold federal agencies accountable, it also provides valuable information for potential job applicants on the what to expect during the hiring process. Individuals interesting in applying for federal positions would be wise to take a close look at the information.

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Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.
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