Improving the Federal Workforce Requires Training for Supervisors, Not Hiring Freeze

Press Release February 9, 2017

Washington, D.C.— Supervisors in the federal workforce need to be provided with managerial training on personnel rules, employee rights and performance management systems, according to NTEU National President Tony Reardon, who provided Congress a list of recommendations to improve the federal workforce and its operations.                                                               

“NTEU supports training and development for federal managers so that these officials have the required skill-sets to better lead, mentor and engage frontline employees,” Reardon said in testimony submitted to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management.

The union has previously endorsed legislation from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) requiring training for those federal employees in their first year of supervisory duties and refresher training throughout their careers.

“We believe that supervisor training, accountability and development are essential for effective human capital management in the federal government, and that the current lack of proper training among managers and supervisors is responsible for some of the current problems facing the federal workforce today,” Reardon said.

Specifically, Reardon said supervisors need training on how to manage high-achievers as well as those struggling with performance, and how to use the performance review process to reward employees based solely on merit. He also testified that despite statements to the contrary, the General Schedule system already includes ways to deny pay increases to poor performers while rewarding outstanding employees.

Reardon warned Congress that the government-wide hiring freeze, as announced in January, is causing unnecessary management challenges that hamper agencies’ ability to accomplish their critical missions, and could result in greater use of private contractors.

“Not only do hiring freezes create more of a work burden on the existing, smaller number of employees, they also lead to backlogs for the public,” Reardon said.

Taxpayers, for example, notice when it takes longer to get IRS assistance during tax filing season or to receive their refunds. And the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was already short-staffed, in part because the agency is not using recruitment awards and other incentives to encourage CBP Officers to work in hard-to-fill ports.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.