Appointments, Vacancies and Government IT: Reforming Personnel Data Systems

Reports of “waste” and “inefficiency” in Congress and other government offices are not uncommon. In his new paper, “Appointments, Vacancies and Government IT: Reforming Personnel Data Systems,” John Hudak argues that the necessary funding to solve these issues is rarely supported.  Hudak uses the disproportionate amount of vacancies in the Department of Homeland Security (38.6%) to illustrate the need for reforms to the personnel management systems used by government agencies and offices alike.

Hudak identifies shortcomings for each of the systems that are currently established: The Central Personnel Data File System, The Plum Book, The Senior Executive Service and Schedule C systems and The Executive Vacancies Act Tracking System. These systems all help track positions and personnel, but are seriously restricted. Relying on agencies to provide information on positions and vacancies, updating data infrequently and listing personnel separate from positions limits the ability of these systems to maintain accurate personnel accounts.  

Hudak offers recommendations about how to change the current systems. He urges:

  • Conducting an audit of appointees to determine the number of appointed positions.
  • Expanding the Executive and Schedule C system to work more like the Executive Vacancies Act Tracking System, providing information about the individual serving in the position and the position itself.
  • Establishing a more standardized position tracking system that links personnel to their position by using ID numbers and clarifies when new positions and new ID numbers should be made.
  • Making reporting position vacancies mandatory for agencies.
  • Linking performance evaluation data with appointee tracking.
  • Providing the funds needed to update data systems that would organize position information and personnel systems necessary to maintain efficacy.