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Pathways, Presidential Management Fellows programs overly broad, say officials

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The premier federal hiring programs endorsed by the Office of Personnel Management are not as beneficial to agencies as they could be, said panelists speaking at a June 3 event in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Mahoney, chief human capital officer at the Commerce Department, said a major flaw of the Pathways Program is that it doesn't allow for targeted vacancy posts.

"So, you can't point your announcement at certain schools to get the kind of talent that you used to get in the past and it makes it a little bit more cumbersome," Mahoney said during an event jointly hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and AFFIRM.

Mike Casella, chief financial officer at the General Services Administration, said he is frustrated by the lack of targeting with Pathways as well.

"It's not just that you can't target schools, you can't target competencies," he said.

The idea is that interns only need general qualifications, he said. In one instance, GSA had to hire a nurse with no finance background for its finance internship, said Casella.

"That was because of this thought – and I hope this is going to change – this idea that you don't need to target this at all, because it's an entry-level position," said Casella.

These comments echo findings from a recent report from the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thorton. In interviews, CHCOs said the Pathways Program isn't meeting the needs of agencies due to requirements many say impede their ability to hire well.  

Casella said the Presidential Management Fellows program has also suffered due to a shift to broader acceptance of candidates.

"I think it was a huge mistake for OPM to get rid of the interview process," said Casella.

Casella added that it's not coincidental that, now that PMF is more of a paper process, a "huge amount of PMFs" were not taken by agencies this year.

"I just think that the lack of an interview makes it not as successful a program as it used to be," he said.

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