Another View: Not so fast with Recruitment One-Stop

Melane Zyla Vickers

Here's a conversation that would never take place in the private sector:
A Dunkin' Donuts area manager mentions to the regional vice president that he's looking to hire two front-of-store workers for the morning shift.

Replies the corporate guy, whom I'll call the Arbitrary Higher Power, 'I'm sorry, but we now have to file that request through Home Depot and pay them a fee.'

Manager: 'What does Home Depot have to do with my doughnut needs?'

Arbitrary Higher Power: 'They're bigger than you. Besides, they have a way-cool idea about how to get applicant information to all managers who need it. Plus, they put the applicant information in a way-cool format that they'and I'spent a lot of money inventing.'

Manager: 'But I want my applicant information in a different format, one that will show whether the job seeker can figure out the difference between a Boston Kreme and a Glazed.'

Arbitrary Higher Power: 'Whatever. Just make sure you talk to Home Depot first.'

Absurd as it may seem, this scenario is playing itself out in the federal government.

The Office of Personnel Management'call it the Arbitrary Higher Power'has decreed that all agencies must use Recruitment One-Stop for finding job applicants. Even if an agency searches for or finds its own applicants, it must now duplicate work and go through Recruitment One-Stop, a $62 million system OPM is buying from the New York company that operates the resume Web site Monster.com.

What's more, the agencies must spend countless additional hours and dollars making applications they collect on their own conform to Recruitment One-Stop's format.

Centralizing the job fulfillment function for the federal government sounds like a good idea. In theory it should allow job seekers to send their application through one Web site, yet get it considered by multiple agencies. But there are lots of ways to deliver that simplicity to job applicants without shoehorning prospective employers into a tight spot. Forcing agencies to conform to Recruitment One-Stop risks:
  • Hurting agencies' ability to carry out their own, independent searches for employees with distinctive skills

  • Forcing the agencies to perform costly individual follow-ups with applicants to obtain specialized information Recruitment One-Stop does not deliver

  • Funneling all government recruitment into the hands of one contractor, putting recruitment at risk should the contractor fumble

  • Relegating applicants' resumes to a passive database agencies must themselves search, thereby lessening the likelihood that agency recruiters will find them

  • Wasting taxpayers' money as agencies abandon the human-resources systems they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars shaping to their needs.

A last-minute reform signed into law in January prevents OPM from closing down agencies' individual recruiting. But OPM still forces the agencies to comply with Recruitment One-Stop, regardless of what they do on the side.

But here's betting dollars to doughnuts that force-feeding Recruitment One-Stop to the rest of the federal government isn't the ideal way to sell it.

Melana Zyla Vickers is a former visiting fellow with the Independent Women's Forum, covering national security issues, foreign affairs and global economics.

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