The chairman of the congressionally mandated National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service told a Senate panel that Federal hiring practices need “a major overhaul,” and highlighted three reforms from the commission’s March report.

“Basic Federal hiring practices need a major overhaul to make them competitive with other employers and to ensure agencies can hire highly qualified employees,” said the commission’s chairman, U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Joseph Heck, speaking to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management on June 23.

Heck, a former U.S. congressman, said simplifying job descriptions, accepting standard one-page resumes, and adding interoperability between USAJOBS and third-party job boards were ways to improve Federal hiring practices included in the commission’s report.

In addition to changing the hiring practices of the Federal government, Heck called for additional paths into public service besides the military. One idea, he said, is a Public Service Corps program similar to the military’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, which would award scholarships in exchange for a multi-year commitment to serve in a Federal agency.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., also expressed interest in expanding opportunities to serve. She referenced the bill, the PROMOTES Act, which she introduced earlier this month, that increases STEM and cyber education for those in the Junior ROTC program.

“There might be another way to engage individuals in a Cyber Corps,” said Rosen, mentioning individuals who might be ineligible to serve in the military because of health reasons. “We might need to think a little bit outside the box and pull in some of those folks,” she said.

Heck picked up on Rosen’s idea at the conclusion of the hearing.

“The cyber professional who doesn’t necessary meet the military standards, how do we get them to go into Federal service?” Heck asked.

Two congressmen introduced a bill in April to create a STEM Corps for the Department of Defense (DoD). The idea of non-DoD cyber service programs have also been proposed.

More recently on the Federal hiring front, President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 26 that directs Federal agencies to “focus hiring on the skills job seekers possess, rather than focusing on whether they have earned a college degree.”  The order gives the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 120 days to change job classifications and qualifications accordingly, with new standards to take effect within 180 days.

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Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.