House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz fears agencies’ last-minute hiring flurry before Inauguration Day represents is an attempt to pack the federal bureaucracy with Democratic partisans and contradicts federal policy.
“The accelerated timelines create the appearance that some federal agencies are pushing to fill as many slots as possible without regard for identifying and hiring the most qualified applicants,” the Utah Republican wrote Monday in letters to 18 agency heads seeking records on their recent hiring practices.
Several agencies posted job openings for as briefly as two weeks during the holidays, although the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) creates a 45-day timeframe between a job vacancy announcement and a job offer, Chaffetz wrote.
The number of federal job postings in the final two weeks of 2016 was 16 percent higher than in the last two weeks of 2015, Chaffetz wrote.
There are 2.1 million federal employees who are paid an average total compensation of $123,160, with salary and benefits for all employees excluding U.S. Postal Service workers, costing taxpayers $267 billion in 2016. (RELATED: House Makes It Easier To Cut Federal Salaries)
A spokesman for OPM refused Jan. 4, 2017, to provide The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group access to the federal personnel agency’s database that “tracks time-to-hire (T2H) from the time that the manager validates the need, which is typically when a recruitment action is submitted to the HR Office, until the employee enters of duty.”
TheDCNF has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the database in order to determine if the T2H average has changed since Obama’s 2010 order.
“The department cannot disregard the merit principles undergirding the civil service for political considerations,” Chaffetz wrote. “Hiring decisions must be legitimate, justified, and free from political influence.”
The Washington Post first reported Dec. 31 that agencies are “racing” to fill vacancies before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated Jan. 20, sparking Chaffetz’ interest.
President Barack Obama issued a memo in 2010 to speed up the hiring process, although it’s unclear if it has. The memo required agencies to measure the quality and speed of the hiring process and determine how to minimize hiring obstacles, and required OPM to create a timeline, benchmarks and progress indicators on improving hiring speed.
Chaffetz asked each agency for a list of all job openings GS-13 and higher announced since Nov. 9, 2016, including a job description, the number of applicants, whether the position was a competitive service position, and the date the agency hired someone for the position.
Chaffetz also demanded all documents submitted to OPM referring to hiring after Nov. 9, 2016, and the number of days between a vacancy announcement and the date the department selected a candidate for each GS-13 position open in 2015. Each agency has until Jan. 19 to comply.
Chaffetz has indicated civil service reform will be a top priority for his committee in the 115th Congress.
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