How, when to begin filling a civilian vacancy

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- One way to cut down on the time needed to fill a civilian vacancy is to begin earlier, Air Force Personnel Center officials said recently.

"Supervisors can submit a request for personnel action at any time to their local Civilian Personnel Office," said Cathy Smoak, Human Resource Specialist, Air Force Programs Oversight office at AFPC. "You don't have to wait until a vacancy actually exists to start the recruitment process."

When a civilian vacancy is anticipated, a supervisor can begin the formal process of finding a replacement by completing an RPA. Once the supervisor obtains all the approvals required to fill the position, the RPA can be submitted to their local Civilian Personnel Office to begin recruitment. Early lead times for recruitment may be appropriate, especially for "hard-to-fill" positions like nurses, engineers, unique equipment specialists and overseas positions.

It's an example of how supervisors can help themselves. If a supervisor knows that an employee is going to resign or retire, he or she can immediately begin the recruitment process. The individual selected for the anticipated vacancy cannot start until the existing employee actually vacates the position.

Although there is no specific time frame for a supervisor to submit an RPA, the supervisor should take into consideration the mandatory DoD Priority Placement Program and the possibility of a PPP match. If an RPA is submitted too early or is submitted based on an anticipated vacancy that doesn't materialize, a supervisor could face having both the current employee and the PPP match on the rolls counting against the organizations manpower and budget for an extended period of time.

"Another way to speed up the hiring process," said Ms. Smoak "is to complete the RPA correctly and to provide supporting documentation. That way important time isn't wasted by having the RPA sent back to the originator for rework."

In every forum, I emphasize lead-turning vacancies," said Michelle LoweSolis, director of the Civilian Force Integration at AFPC. "If we can save even a few days in the employment process by submitting RPAs in advance of actual vacancies, then we've better supported our many Air Force missions and made the system more efficient."