HReinvented: Defense re-tunes its hiring machine

J.D. Sicilia, Director; Howard Seamens, Performance Improvement Specialist, Lean Six Sigma Program Office, Defense Dept.

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 12:37 am

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

When the Department of Defense listed its Top Ten Priorities for OMB, “reform the hiring process” figured prominently. J.D. Sicilia, Director of the DoD Lean Six Sigma Program Office, told Federal News Radio, that’s all it took to give him “the guidance and the vector on how and what to attack.”

Federal News Radio spoke with Sicilia and Howard Seamens is a Performance Improvement Specialist with the Human Capital Portfolio in the DoD Lean Six Sigma Program Office as part of our series HReinvented.

Seamens said identifying the problem wasn’t the problem. It was that “the duration of the recruitment process is too long and the quality of the candidate is not satisfactory.” The trick was identifying what was causing the delay.


Sicilia said the Lean Six Sigma performance management system, now being used throughout the Defense Department on a variety of programs, was the analysis tool of choice.

Sicilia said “it’s a very disciplined approach to examining any type of process and the hiring process is just that.” Looking at the process a step at a time, Lean Six does a root cause analysis to understand what the issue is “and then it implements a proven, best practice solution to it that you have to sustain over time. So it’s not a one-shot review with a one-shot answer. It’s a continual process that is examined over time to make sure you stay at the level you want to perform at.”

Seamens said that after looking at the process and duration of steps, “we identified opportunities by considering the entire end to end process, identifying those that take the greatest period of time and perhaps attack those as the greatest opportunity for reducing the total cycle-time.”

Three aspects of the process stuck out, said Seamens: the evaluation of candidates, security check, and entry on duty process. “And then we also discovered that the first five steps in the recruitment process were filled with..a lot of cancellations.”

Now that they have a starting point, Lean Six is pointing the way to what to do next, said Sicilia.

There were some organizations that are absolutely doing it right, and those are the ones that we look to for best practices. We don’t invent the wheel every time we solve a problem. There are probably already some very good solutions in place, so what we did is we gathered a lot of those good solutions.

And then, said Sicilia, “we had the other end of the spectrum where just about every phase of it went bad.”

Now, looking across offices and parts of the Department, the idea will be to grab best practices, put them in segments, and then put the puzzle together. “And that’s where we are today,” said Scilia, “with many segments of improvements, but it hasn’t been enacted in one particular organization from start to finish.”

That’s next.

For more of our series, HReinvented, click here.