Talent acquisition vendors, take note: the Biden administration plans to add a total of 82,000 federal employees in fiscal 2023, a 3.6% increase that would bring the civil service to its highest total since 1969.
Nearly every federal agency would receive a funding boost in President Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget, and all but one major agency is anticipating adding staff as a result. Much of the hiring is aimed at making up for losses sustained during Obama-era budget caps and Trump-era targeted reductions, though some agencies are looking to address new concerns and priorities.
The one exception is NASA, which is proposing an overall budget increase of 11% compared to fiscal 2021, but is still expecting to shed staff. The space agency is increasingly leaning on private sector partners to conduct various missions and said it will “offer targeted buyouts in selected surplus skill areas.”
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will take “a data-driven approach to recruitment, assessment, and hiring strategies,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja and the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management Jason Miller said in a blog post published March 29.
The Biden administration’s analytical perspectives on strengthening the federal workforce additionally highlighted diversity goals for the agency, particularly its plan to get more people from underserved communities into federal jobs. The budget request said it will use Federal Executive Boards to help agencies create local connections and recruit from more diverse talent pools.
To help the FEBs do that, the 2023 budget request updates the program’s funding and governance structure, which is more than 60 years old. The budget request also establishes a program management office for the FEB community and provides a line of business funded at $10 million.
To support this surge, the administration is looking to update systems and processes across all agencies. The federal budget calls for improving its HR capabilities with new technology and recruiting approaches, and better analysis of its data. OPM seeks $418 million, an $88 million increase over what it received in 2021 in its primary discretionary account.
In a strategic plan released in late March for fiscal years 2022 to 2026, OPM said it wants an enterprise-wide HR technology strategy that delivers seamless HR capabilities across the federal government. It calls for expanding the use of cloud services and upskilling the workforce. Improving employee engagement is also part of the strategy. The plan is for OPM to lead the way in making the Federal Government the model employer by "being the model agency in implementing best practices, leading by example, and becoming the change we want to see."
"The Federal Government has an opportunity to reimagine the way Federal employees work. By utilizing expanded flexibilities in work arrangements such as: expanded telework and alternative work schedules; increased adoption of technology, such as cloud computing collaboration tools; and automation supported by information technology investments in the Budget the Government can enhance its ability to recruit and retain top talent, staying competitive with broader trends in how Americans work. A changing world has proven that innovation is possible in the way Federal employees work and operate, including changing needs and uses for Federal workplaces, which agencies will continue to evaluate and assess."
Much of the plan for surge hiring is rooted in customer service, said Kristine Simmons, vice president of government affairs at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government management advisory group. "People are used to having service that is often instant, often self-service," she said.
"Agencies need to hire now to fill essential and mission-driven roles: scientists to combat climate change, engineers to repair and rebuild our roads and bridges, and workers to help ensure that every community in America has clean water, just to name a few," said Ahuja, OPM director, in a December memo outlining the surge hiring plan.