An end to KSAs and a start to quicker hiring?
Obama Orders Hiring Changes, End to KSAs
President Obama has ordered federal hiring managers to revamp the way the government hires workers and to eliminate from the initial application process the use of the onerous essays called KSAs that assess applicants’ knowledge, skills and abilities.
The changes, detailed in a May 11 presidential memorandum, are part of Obama’s effort to cut in half the time it takes to fill vacancies and to give the government a leg up in competing with the private sector for the best candidates.
Under the order, agencies by Nov. 1 must do away with any requirements for KSAs in the initial application process and allow all jobseekers to use resumes and cover letters, or let them complete simple, plain-language applications as they do when applying for non-governmental jobs.
The order also allows departments within agencies to switch to a system known as “category hiring,” which allows a manager to hire from a wider list of qualified candidates. This method would replace the old “rule of three” hiring method, which requires a manager to choose from among only three qualified candidates. Under the order, after a department has screened candidates from a list, another department also would be able to pick candidates from the same list, rather than start the process anew.
Among other things, the order also instructs OPM to improve the quality of federal job announcements to make them more understandable to candidates, and encourages senior administration officials and agency heads visiting universities to inform students about federal employment.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley applauded the move to streamline hiring, but cautioned that the changes, particularly the category hiring, should not subvert the civil service merit hiring process. Kelley said she was especially encouraged that the president’s mandate ordered the Office of Personnel Management to evaluate agency use of the Federal Career Intern Program and report back. NTEU has been advocating the elimination of the FCIP, which the union says has been used by agencies to avoid merit-based hiring to fill entry-level positions.