Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton Announces Legislative Plan to Recruit More Federal Employees

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced last week that she would introduce the Federal Employee Recruitment Act of 2019 once Congress returns to session following the October recess, which ended today. The legislation aims to increase the recruitment of young people to federal service.

According to a release by Del. Norton, the average age of federal employees has steadily increased over the past two decades. In the private sector, 54 percent of workers are over 40 years told. In the federal sector, 69 percent of employees are over 40 years old. Additionally, only six percent of federal employees are under 30 years old.

The Federal Employee Recruitment Act would require OPM to develop a plan for recruiting new workers into the federal service within three months of enactment.

Del. Norton has also sent a letter to OPM Director Dale Cabaniss urging her to begin this process even without a legislative push.

The letter explains, “There are numerous consequences to an aging federal workforce.  For example, as older federal employees opt to retire, the government risks permanently losing much of its institutional knowledge if federal agencies cannot find adequate replacements.”

Del. Norton continues, writing, “Possible solutions to the problem of a graying workforce include increased federal recruitment at college and university campuses, increased technological innovation in how applications are submitted, and a greater number of internships.  Improved benefits, including paid family leave, increased telework, and short-term disability insurance allowing coverage for non-work-related injury or illness or pregnancy, can also likely increase recruitment and retention of employees by the federal government.”

Agencies have already begun feeling the sting of vacancies in their workforces.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently begun experimenting with new recruitment and retention initiatives to assist with their 49,000 vacancies.

Jessica Bonjorni, acting assistant deputy undersecretary for health for workforce services at the Veterans Health Administration, told Federal News Network last month, “We need to have a more strategic approach to putting together our compensation packages. Facilities that are in those harder to reach areas understand exactly what kind of package they should put together to offer people to come on board.”

Del. Norton requested OPM Director Cabaniss reply to her letter within 30-days with information on the agency’s plan to increase recruitment.

Posted in From the Hill

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