Federal Government Financial Management Retirement, Retention and Recruitment

By Miller, Jennifer A. | The Journal of Government Financial Management, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Federal Government Financial Management Retirement, Retention and Recruitment


Miller, Jennifer A., The Journal of Government Financial Management


Increased studies and efforts to recruit and retain younger generations in preparation for mass retirements support the idea that even if there is not a dire workforce and talent shortage in government financial management today, it could happen soon. Some researchers have determined up to 40 percent of government employees will become retirement-eligible within the next five years.1 The financial management, accounting, budget and audit career fields are reflective of the larger population of government employees slated to suffer the wave. Whether due to budget reductions, lack of interest in public service or retirements, financial management offices are decreasing in size despite increases to the scope of responsibility. How do we stop the talent-pool leak, attract generations bypassing public service careers, and incorporate innovation while providing finance, budget and procurement services?

Innovative Recruitment

In the spring of 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) introduced the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Roadmap2 with its data-driven strategy and that added speed to an otherwise slow process of federal government recruitment. The roadmap's comprehensive style stems from sources such as data from OPM's annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). Other influences include demands to decrease onboarding time of new hires in organizations that use USAjobs.gov. The REDI roadmap - covering the highest- to lowest-levels of federal employees - supports the Pathways programs, which are significant entry points for students wishing to test the waters of federal government. As someone who entered the federal financial management career field through a program that now falls under the Pathways Programs umbrella, I am glad to see the route replicated across government.

New Paths to Public Service

In short, "The Pathways Programs offer clear paths to federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their federal service.''3 However, this clear path took time to pave. President Obama signed Executive Order 13562, "Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates," in December 2010, whereas implementation began July 2012.4 But good things come to those who wait ... or continue to educate! Prior versions of the programs had significant issues, such as adhering to veteran's preference laws. I entered the U.S. Air Force financial management federal career intern program in April 2010, six months after applying. Peers reported six months as "about average" despite a window of just three days to apply to the USAjobs.gov announcements. Vacancy announcements easily garnered more than 500 applications, according to one manager at a group orientation. Delays in sorting through viable applicants and engaging host organizations resulted in risk of applicants taking other jobs. Applicants included financial managers, accountants, auditors, cost analysts and budgeteers. Today, delays in hiring remain an area for improvement in Pathways Programs regardless of the criticality of knowledge, skills and abilities; however, improvements have been made. For instance, Presidential Management Fellows Program recruiting schedules have been modified to better align with college schedules and eligibility criteria emphasizing graduation dates were added to the Recent Graduates Program. From an orga- nization perspective, the condensed internship program appears to serve more agencies while students continue their education.5 These opportunities can be great for someone seeking to dip their toe in government work before making a longer-term commitment, all while remaining full-speed ahead with scholastics. These trial periods benefit employers, as well, since not everyone or every organization finds a "fit."

A Goldilocks Generation? …

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