Rapid Reinforcements: Strategies for Federal Surge Hiring

October 29, 2020

Federal agencies encounter many challenges that require rapid growth of their workforce such as national emergencies, large-scale attrition, new mission requirements or the need for emergent skills. In such instances, standard federal hiring practices are often insufficient to meet the immediate demands for additional talent. As a result, agencies may seek strategies to undertake surge hiring, the process of quickly and significantly increasing the size of the workforce.

With support from the Democracy Fund, the Partnership for Public Service conducted in-depth research—including a literature review as well as interviews with current and former federal HR leaders and other agency officials—to identify the most effective and widely applicable strategies for surge hiring. Based on the examination of previous hiring surges, the Partnership identified best practices, challenges and lessons learned, distilling these findings into three basic strategies that agencies can use without additional authority from Congress.