Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Announces Bill Aimed at Recruiting New Federal Workers

Oct 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced she will introduce the Federal Employee Recruitment Act of 2019, which would require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to develop a plan for recruiting new workers into federal service within three months of the bill’s enactment.  The average age of federal employees has steadily increased over the course of the last two decades.  In the private sector, 54% of workers are over 40 years old, while in the federal workforce, that number is 69%.  Startlingly, just six % of the federal workforce is under 30 years old.  As lifelong public servants retire, the federal government risks losing much of its institutional knowledge if federal agencies cannot find replacements.

Norton also released a letter today she sent to OPM Director Dale Cabaniss urging OPM to begin taking steps to increase federal recruitment even before Norton’s bill is enacted, as there are important steps OPM can take immediately to address this issue.

In her letter, Norton writes: “Possible solutions to the problem of a graying workforce include increased federal recruitment at college and university campuses, increased technological innovation in how applications are submitted, and a greater number of internships.  Improved benefits, including paid family leave, increased telework, and short-term disability insurance allowing coverage for non-work-related injury or illness or pregnancy, can also likely increase recruitment and retention of employees by the federal government.”

The full text of the letter is below.

October 8, 2019

The Honorable Dale Cabaniss

Director

Office of Personnel Management

1900 E Street NW

Washington, DC 20415

Dear Director Cabaniss:

I write regarding the urgent need to recruit and retain new workers into federal service.  With the aging of the federal workforce, it is more important than ever that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) direct resources and efforts to recruiting new workers into public service.

As you know, the average age of federal employees has steadily increased over the course of the last two decades, hitting 47.5 years in 2017.  In the private sector, 54% of workers are over 40 years old, while in the federal workforce, that number is 69%.  At the end of last year, only 6% of the federal workforce were under 30, while almost a quarter of private-sector employees were under 30.

There are numerous consequences to an aging federal workforce.  For example, as older federal employees opt to retire, the government risks permanently losing much of its institutional knowledge if federal agencies cannot find adequate replacements.

Possible solutions to the problem of a graying workforce include increased federal recruitment at college and university campuses, increased technological innovation in how applications are submitted, and a greater number of internships.  Improved benefits, including paid family leave, increased telework, and short-term disability insurance allowing coverage for non-work-related injury or illness or pregnancy, can also likely increase recruitment and retention of employees by the federal government.

I will be introducing legislation to direct OPM to develop a recruitment plan.  However, I believe that there are important steps OPM can and should be taking immediately, even before enactment of my bill.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and request that you respond to this letter, in writing, within 30 days.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

###