Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.26, No.3, 2010. pp. 455464

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Recruitment, Training and Retention of Statisticians in the U.S. Federal Statistical Agencies

Over the last twenty-five years the recruitment and retention of technically qualified statisticians by government statistical agencies has become far more difficult. Focusing on experiences in the U.S. Federal government, this article explores some of the reasons why and offers a number of possible solutions to the problem. It begins by describing the three major cross-cutting divisions within the community of statisticians in the Federal statistical agencies: production vs. research; survey statistics vs. other statistical applications; mathematical statisticians vs. other statisticians. The discussion of recruitment focuses on the skills and other characteristics of desirable job candidates, advantages and disadvantages of a career in government, and (perhaps most importantly) the institutional barriers that make recruiting such a difficult task. Subjects with respect to training include mentoring, career goals, the importance of developing communication skills, and different career paths depending on job classification and the emphasis on production or research. Retention is discussed in terms of lifelong learning, advancement, continuous challenges, and the incentive and reward system. Recommendations for improvement in all of these areas are offered.

Succession planning, human resources, employee satisfaction

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