The Corner

Translated from the Fedsperanto

A knowledgeable reader elucidates that Fedsperanto memo from Obama:

Derb,

I’ve got some information that you might like to add to your post from yesterday.

I’m a longtime listener of Radio Derb, so when I needed an internship during my graduate program, I accepted a position at [name of big federal agency]. I’ve worked there for the past year, and will have my internship converted into a full-time position after I graduate.… Because of my internship, I didn’t have to go through the application process that the White House is amending.

My manager explained to me just how much of an advantage that gave me. The old program was the typical bureaucratic attempt to pass the buck without actually solving a problem. The test gave the appearance of defining objective standards, but it actually made hiring a complete crapshoot. When the application period for a position closes, managers get to see the applicants with the top three scores from the government agency (essay responses don’t even factor in to the scoring system). If more than three people – fifty, say – score perfectly on the test, then three are chosen from at random from the fifty. They may not see any other résumés. Since the test is administered online without any verification, it provides applicants with every incentive to lie just to make it to the interview process. Having applied to similar positions and answered the questions truthfully, I felt like a rube when I found that out.

The thick Fedsperanto allows the White House to take credit for fixing the system without admitting that it was completely broken in the first place. Conservatives should applaud the move because it allows managers to make decisions instead of tying their hands with red tape and arbitrary formulas. It makes federal hiring much more like hiring in the private sector.

Still not clear what’s happened here, but I can see the case that this is some kind of an improvement. “Improvement in federal hiring and promotion practices,” though, still sounds to me not very different from “Improvement in the ability of aardvarks to solve partial differential equations.”

Cynical? Moi?

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