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The FDA Workforce & a "Broken" Hiring System



11/20/2012 8:15:24 AM

Five years ago, a report found some disturbing trends among FDA personnel. Funding shortfalls and intense work pressures caused top scientists to leave, created problems executing fundamental research, hurt recruitment of both young and seasoned scientific talent, and left the agency with significant gaps in scientific expertise. So how is the agency faring now? Not surprisingly, challenges remain. Hiring takes too long; the agency suffers from branding and image issues; the workload can be overwhelming; there is insufficient job training and a lack of advancement; there is a heavy reliance on temporary workers; and there is a need to invest more in career training, leadership development, succession planning and targeted recruitment programs, according to a new report. “The FDA continues to have significant workforce and management challenges in the scientific and medical arenas that need to be addressed for the agency to fulfill its public health obligations to the American public and its responsibilities to the industries it regulates,” according to the report by the Partnership for Public Service, a non-profit that is devoted to transforming government and was commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The report paints a picture of an agency continually in transition. Buffeted by ever-changing political winds, public health crises and funding debates, the FDA has taken steps to improve its workforce and workplace, the report notes. In fact, job satisfaction is high, at least compared with other health agencies, and funding has risen. But FDA officials continue to struggle with ways to ensure a highly educated and effective workforce remains in place.

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