Case #1855.0

Extreme Hiring Makeover, Part A: Tackling the Federal Employment Crisis

Publication Date: January 01, 2006
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In the early 21st century, the US federal government faced a hiring crisis, as nearly half its workforce approached retirement age. Hiring procedures were time consuming, confusing to the applicant, and frustrating to managers who felt their new hires often lacked necessary skills despite screening. In 2004, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service ran a one-year pilot program which brought together three volunteer federal agencies, and seven private sector or non-profit firms (which offered their services pro bono), to focus on hiring and recruiting. The hope was that the public agencies would identify and adopt relevant and effective private sector hiring best practices. Part A of this case describes the process by which the Partnership brought together participants in the "Extreme Hiring Makeover" project. It highlights the suspicions on both sides--the public sector's doubts that private firms could understand the constraints of public agencies, and whether they might try to exploit the project to win lucrative contracts; and the private sector's doubts that public agencies were flexible enough to adopt new practices. A second case, Part B, traces the implementation of the project within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Learning Objective:
Students will gain an understanding of the often overlooked common interests of the public and private sectors, as well as the tensions between them. The case also provides a window into how nonprofits can be valuable facilitators between the sectors. Students will learn about the evolution of the federal hiring process, and have the opportunity to discuss the difficulty in changing practices within large bureaucracies. The case will be useful in courses on public managements, engineering change, and nonprofits.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
Steve Kelman
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Kennedy School of Government Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government