Federal News Radio recently released the results of a survey it took of chief human capital officers (CHCO) in a number of federal agencies. The responses described the effects of budget cuts and limited resources on both the recruitment and retention of trained personnel.
Challenges, according to survey participants, are greatest where there are salary cuts or benefit reductions. Overall agency budget reductions, though, could have an effect on training programs and technology acquisition.
Coming through loud and clear are the effects that the current budgetary uncertainty are creating. Federal New Radio quotes one surveyed personnel chief as stating that “Uncertainty leads to inaction.”
Hiring freezes are in effect at some of the surveyed agencies. The “hard” freeze prevents the agencies from filling key positions. Combined with salary and benefit issues, the survey demonstrates that many CHCOs are truly struggling with retention.
Performance management is critical to many of those surveyed but the feeling is that direction must come from the top. Some supervisors lack training in personnel management.
The agencies surveyed reported a modest amount of interaction with the Office of Personnel Management. The respondents, however, strongly supported the controversial move of the federal jobs website to OPM control. The site, USAJobs, has been the subject of Congressional hearings because of its poor operation under OPM control but the survey found that the agency personnel heads were supportive of the program.
The survey garnered a variety of suggestions to improve the system. Many included better technology as HR systems were felt to be cumbersome. A number of policy changes were offered, including modification of veterans’ preferences. About half the respondents felt that human resources and hiring managers were still not working together as well as they should.
Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a free lance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.