Now that the 2011 budget battle has come to a close in Congress, agencies that had hiring freezes in place can get busy with filling positions.
But John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, told Federal News Radio not to expect a dam burst.
“What we’re not going to be seeing is a hiring splurge. I think some hiring will now be done that had been put on hold while agencies were waiting to see if they were going to actually be cut further than they have been. So some essential hiring will go on, but there are some agencies, Social Security Administration is one, where I think they’re still trying to figure out if they can simply avoid any furloughs or cuts below existing levels.”
And it’s probably a good thing there’s no rush. According to Palguta, the budget battle “will have an impact on the type of candidate” applying for a federal job. “Getting warm bodies has never been an issue. It’s really the ability to attract the people who are the very best at doing whatever the job is that is being filled.”
Because of the economy, said Palguta, over the past few years, the government has had a favorable position. “But now the situation’s reversing.” Hiring has started to increase in the private sector “and government frankly has a bit of a black eye right now,” said Palguta. As a result, some of the best talent may be looking elsewhere.
For managers headed into the FY 2012 budget battle, Palguta said to brace for “additional cuts, hiring freezes, and for a manager, I think the best advice is do what most of them do. Keep your eye on getting the job done today. Keep the other eye on what the future may bring.” Remember, he advised, that you’re not in it alone. Be open and honest with your employees and ask for their help if you need it.
Most of all, remember we’ve gone through this before, encouraged Palguta. We’re in a tight period now, but “it’s not going to continue this way because, ultimately folks realize they need the services and benefits that government provides. It’s just not always a smooth road getting there.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.