The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) should develop and implement a process for collecting and sharing lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform hiring during future emergencies, and share these lessons governmentwide, the Government Accountability Office urged in a new report.

The GAO’s report highlights that five agencies received direct hiring authority (DHA) from OPM in response to the pandemic, as of Sept. 30, 2020. DHAs can allow agencies to expedite the hiring process through eliminating competitive rating and ranking procedures and veterans’ preference for specific positions.

The number of staff hired by 10 selected agencies using three different, temporary COVID-19 hiring authorities varied, GAO found.

The agencies selected for review described lessons learned that could assist agencies in improving the use of hiring authorities in future emergencies, such as: collaborating with internal stakeholders to maximize information sharing across the agency; and creating an inventory of hiring needs and available authorities to assist in addressing agency workforce needs.

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“OPM intends to conduct reviews in fiscal year 2022 that may provide insight into agencies’ use of hiring authorities in response to the pandemic,” wrote GAO. “However, according to OPM officials, the agency has not yet developed plans to collect and share lessons learned on the use of COVID-19 related hiring authorities.”

“Collecting and sharing lessons learned would help OPM understand how the various hiring authorities could be used during future emergencies and identify opportunities to improve the hiring process,” GAO added.

OPM concurred with GAO’s recommendation for the agency to develop and implement a process for collecting and sharing governmentwide lessons learned from different hiring authorities in response to the pandemic.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.