Entry-level, Federal Government Employment: a Primer on the Pathways Hiring Program

By: Steve Grumm

Uncle Sam recently implemented large-scale changes to the federal hiring system.  This directly impacts both law students and attorneys.  Here’s a great article, “The Pathways Program: Clearing the Way to Entry-level Federal Employment”, from PSJD summer 2012 intern extraordinairre Maria Hibbard.

And don’t forget to use PSJD’s detailed federal career resources page.


Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program Under Scrutiny for Application Mishap

By: Steve Grumm

A PMF mishap we noted earlier, which resulted in 300 applicants being given (temporary) false hope, has caught lawmakers’ attention.  From Government Executive:

he House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked Office of Personnel Management officials to explain a recent Presidential Management Fellows program mishap.

In a March 1 letter to OPM Director John Berry, Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Dennis Ross, R-Fla., chairmen of the committee and its Federal Workforce Subcommittee, respectively, sought more information related to a Jan. 23 incident when OPM mistakenly sent acceptance emails to 300 semifinalists who hadn’t qualified for the prestigious fellows program. About a quarter of the 1,186 semifinalists received the erroneous letters. Later that day the same applicants received another email informing them there was an error in the system.

In the letter, Issa and Ross expressed concern that the notification mistake was “indicative of larger IT failures at OPM,” including the agency’s recent troubles with retirement processing and USAJobs.gov.

Issa and Ross’ request included a description of “all issues that may have adversely affected a candidate’s ability to apply for the program,” as well as a timeline of changes that have been made to the fellows program, the retention rate for fellows and a list of formal complaints filed with OPM regarding the program. The agency has until April 13 to provide the information.


Consider This: The Pros and Cons of a Federal Legal Career

by Kristen Pavón

Here at NALP we have a bookstore filled to the brim with incredibly helpful books on the legal market and career development. One of particular interest to us at PSLawNet is Landing a Federal Legal Job: Finding Success in the U.S. Government Job Market by Richard L. Hermann.

In addition to going into great detail about … well, almost every facet of federal legal jobs, the author lays out over 20 pros and cons of getting into the fed biz. Here are a few of the highlights:

The Pros

  • The Inevitable Exodus of Retirees.

The average federal employee is 50 years old. In the next several years, the government anticipates a demand for new hires.

  • Work/Life Balance

The majority of federal government attorneys enjoy 35-40 hour work weeks. Also, the government’s vacation policy and benefits are generous.

  • Transferability

Once you get your foot in the door, you’re in a good position to move around laterally within your agency and even other agencies.

The Cons

  • Promotion Ceilings

I like this quote on the subject; it says it all — “If you are consumed with ambition, the federal government may leave you somewhat frustrated.”

  • Marketability

Oftentimes, government attorneys practice within a very narrow field, which makes it difficult to move into the private sector. However, there are exceptions.

  • Drug Testing

LOL. I’ll say no more.

Also, unofficially — I’d add the ugly job market and its effect on landing government positions to the con list.

So, now I want to know — are you interested in federal jobs? Have you applied to some already? What were your considerations before applying?


Want to Work in the Federal Government? Which Agency is the Best Place to Work?

Thinking about working for the federal government? Well then, the Partnership for Public Service’s new report on the best places to work in the federal government is worth a look.

The report rates agencies on 1) employee skills/mission match, 2) strategic management, 3) teamwork, 4) effective leadership, 5) performance based rewards and advancement, 6) training and development, 7) support for diversity, 8 ) family friendly culture and benefits, 9) pay, and 10) work/life balance.

However, one caveat is that the report does not reflect data on attorney satisfaction. It gives a broad look at the agencies. A quick glance at the percent change column shows that most agencies’ scores went down a bit. Hmm.

Check out Partnership’s list here and make sure to browse through the scores by category (or view the list with all the categories on one page here).

Department of Justice, the largest employer of attorneys in the nation, made it to #11 on the overall score list — out of 33 large agencies.

Also, check out score analysis over at The Washington Post.


Federal Officials Acknowledge Troubles with New USAJobs Site

Last week Office of Personnel Management officials spoke about the problems that job-seekers have experienced with the recently launched USAJobs website.  OPM folks were surprised by the immediate, postlaunch user traffic, and in some respects the new system was overwhelmed by it.  Officials, while apologizing to those who experienced problems, also noted that many of the service requests they received stemmed from user error.   Read the full Government Executive story here.

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Unhappy with the New USAJobs Website? You're Not Alone.

Government Executive reports that not everyone’s happy with the latest version of USAJobs:

Readers of Government Executive have been less than impressed with USAJobs 3.0. Of the nearly 160 responses to an open-ended query as of Tuesday, only seven praised the website’s Oct. 11 relaunch.

The most frequent complaints centered on the site’s search function. Commentators said the tool for filtering search results isn’t working properly — for example, location-based searches return results outside of the specified regions.

Many readers also complained about losing the searches they had saved under USAJOBS 2.0, although OPM had stated on its website and via emails to users prior to the relaunch that no saved searches would carry over.

Bugs in the results pages, login difficulties and long load times also were high on readers’ list of grievances.

The folks at the Office of Personnel Management (which administers USAJobs) are, however, undeterred:

OPM stands by the product, updating the public via daily reports on the site.

“Through refinement efforts, USAJobs 3.0 is continuing to see success, and the most recent testing by OPM shows that the site remains stable and secure, and its capacity is at full strength,” OPM Chief Information Officer Matthew Perry wrote in an Oct. 31 public report. The agency is planning an additional technical briefing on the site for later this week.

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