Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the OPM Hiring Reform Event

Brooke-Mondale Auditorium

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank you, John, for that kind introduction, and for your remarkable work on making the Federal government more accountable to the American people.

I can't overstate how important John and the Office of Personnel Management has been to our efforts here at HUD -- not just to reform our hiring processes, but to set a standard for how we can become the most efficient, responsive agency possible.

And the best way we can do that--not just at HUD, but throughout the Federal government--is to bring the Federal workforce into the 21st century.

Thanks to John's leadership, vision, and hard work, I'm proud to say we're doing just that. Those reforms are always important -- but particularly today, as we continue to recover from the economic crisis.

Everyone here today understands that HUD is at the center of those recovery efforts.

And in that difficult environment, I'm proud we've already finished renovating 360,000 homes, prevented or ended homelessness for more than three-quarters of a million people, and helped provide more affordable mortgages for more than 3.5 million families in danger of losing their homes.

And at an internal town hall just yesterday--which was broadcast to our field offices across the country--I was proud to say "thank you" to our staff for making that possible.

But when I first arrived in Washington nearly two years ago, our internal systems didn't reflect the urgency of the moment, to put it mildly.

At the time, it took HUD 139 days on average to go from putting a job announcement out to actually hiring someone.

Even worse than how long it took was the fact that the process itself didn't yield very good results.

In the past, for instance, if HUD wanted to hire new IT staff to analyze the quality of borrowers using FHA loans, our program managers were barely involved in the development of the recruitment tools -- from the job description to the kinds of questions used to screen applicants.

Only when the short list of applicants had already been identified did their potential bosses get involved in the hiring process.

You can imagine how, in the midst of the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, taking four-and-half months to hire new staff could be a bit of a problem. Even if you found the right person for the job, there was no guarantee that they'd still be in the market for a job by the time you could bring them on.

So, between the President's Hiring Reform Initiative and our internal Transformation Initiative, at HUD, we've reduced the number of steps a hiring manager has to take to both begin the hiring process and finalize selections.

We've provided workshops to managers to help them understand their role in the hiring process. And we've improved the accountability of everyone's role up and down the hiring chain.

We're now down to an average of 76 days, meeting our target goal and cutting the hiring process by more than eight weeks -- almost in half.

And even more important than that, we've seen an improvement in the quality of hires -- people who are better qualified for the jobs we're posting.

Thanks to the President and OPM, we're transitioning to a résumé-based system for the vast majority of our hiring, cutting through the red tape so hiring managers can view the full range of qualified applicants and using shared registers that pool our resources.

Coupled with HUD's five-year Strategic Plan that we released in May, these steps have already begun to improve our ability to attract and retain a high quality workforce and support the President's goal of making government service cool once again.

You can see the results of reform in the new hires we've made in our REAC office which tracks information on the condition of HUD's housing portfolio.

Those efforts began with key personnel from across the department coming together to develop a unified hiring strategy -- ensuring the right people were at the table at the beginning of the process.

Second, we reached out to university career centers across the country, as well as the Partnership for Public Service, to develop a recruiting strategy -- ensuring that talented young people excited about government service were aware of the opportunities here and could be recruited to fill them.

And third, with a rigorous but efficient screening process, HUD was able to quickly narrow the talent pool down to its most qualified applicants.

As a result of this new process, HUD was able to hire 26 talented people from different backgrounds and with different experiences -- ensuring our staff is as diverse as the communities we serve.

These employees represent the new generation of professionals who will help lead HUD for years to come.

And that's only one example of the results we're already seeing thanks to our own internal efforts and the President's Hiring Reform Initiative.

So, we're excited about what we've been able to accomplish so far -- as we continue to create a skilled, motivated workforce, and a flexible, high performing learning organization.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, as we work to improve accountability for hiring managers, develop standardized language for our performance plans as outlined in the President's memo, and improve workforce planning.

But as John likes to say about hiring reform, "there's no turning back."

There certainly won't be for HUD -- reforms are already transforming us into a more responsive, efficient, and accountable agency.

Above all, they're making HUD an agency that invests not in programs and policies but in the people and places that rely on them.

That's what the President Obama's Hiring Reform Initiative is about -- that's what John Berry is about.

And it's why I'm so proud to join him today.

And now it's my pleasure to introduce Janie Payne, HUD's Chief Human Capital Officer, who has done so much of the hard work required to make sure the reforms President Obama directed are actually made real here at HUD.

Thank you, and please welcome Janie Payne.


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