As we mentioned last week, the number of HR Professionals in the GS-14 and GS-15 grades increased by over 2,500 employees (from 1,886 to 4,445) between 1998 and 2018 – so why did the MSPB interviews in their recent research brief, “The State of the Federal HR Workforce: Changes and Challenges” indicate a loss of leadership and expertise? The answer starts with digging in to one of the MSPB survey responses, “[we] were told to do things a certain way”.

From the new HR Assistant all the way to the CHCO, Federal HR professionals work hard, care about their customers, listen to their leaders, and want to be successful. The CHCO Act of 2002 was designed to align HR across Executive Branch, advise OPM and OMB on human capital strategies and policies, and provide leadership in sustaining and developing of the Federal Government human capital community. Oversight and reporting are provided through mechanisms like the Federal Workforce Priority Report (FWPR), Human Capital Operating Plans (HCOP), HRStat reviews, and Human Capital Reviews and Audits. With this drive and desire in the workforce, and myriad oversight and reporting requirements there remains “little indication agencies have cultivated deep expertise or broad thinking”.

So, what is the solution? Agencies must invest the time necessary to develop training plans for their HR workforce to better identify and close skill gaps and develop robust workforce plans. Although the training plan development will occur while HR struggles to keep up with recruitment needs, performance management, workforce and succession planning, the short term pain will lead to significant long term gains. Agencies that implement thorough HR career plans will be able to properly grow their own workforce and make significant and rapid strides towards the ‘deep expertise and broad thinking’ that was contemplated by the CHCO Act.