Defense Digital Service Seeks Platform that Could Automate Hiring Process

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Officials are looking for technical solutions that boost automation and reduce unconscious bias.

The Defense Digital Service is looking for a technological solution to boost the recruitment and hiring of its “SWAT team of nerds.” 

According to a request for information published late Monday, DDS aims to acquire a commercial-off-the-shelf, cloud-hosted software that can be harnessed to enhance and automate the agency’s hiring processes. 

“DDS wants to create a candidate experience that reflects the dynamic, technical, and innovative environment in which we work,” agency officials wrote in the document. “Further, DDS wants to create a single, unified experience for candidates regardless of from where they come.”

Born out of the U.S. Digital Service in 2015, DDS brings on digital experts to serve limited tours within the Defense Department to implement technology-focused solutions. Some projects DDS leads include running bug bounties, transforming digital services for military personnel, bolstering cybersecurity training and developing new capabilities to counter drones and other emerging tech. 

“We leverage a direct hiring authority to quickly source, vet and onboard talent outside of the traditional (and lengthy) government hiring process,” insiders noted. For that reason, the agency is “not interested in tools that replicate or facilitate the broken federal HR processes.”

DDS is eyeing systems that work within legal and regulatory constraints for federal hiring. In particular, officials hope to identify tools that can help reduce the manual tasks staff are expected to embark on in hiring, such as scheduling, changing applicant statuses, coordinating calendars and tracking communications. The ultimate hope is to automate some of its human resource team’s actions so that they can have more time to hone in on improving candidates’ experience. 

Outside of HR, the agency’s subject matter experts inside also review every single relevant resume that DDS receives. In that light, the new tech solution should keep those employees seamlessly up-to-date on when they need to review resumes and conduct interviews. Further, the agency also notes that as the bar for entry is high, many who apply do not make it to the final round or land a position at DDS, though they will likely continue to work on defense missions even if they aren’t selected. 

“It is vital that the hiring process is designed well for those that are disappointed,” officials note. 

In an effort to determine what technical capabilities are available, the agency poses a series of 13 questions for interested vendors to answer. DDS asks about services that can manage the “full lifecycle of job applications,” whether they are customizable and if they can offer statistical reporting and data analytics to support the process. Officials also question whether the solutions can demonstrate that they improve workforce diversity and reduce unconscious bias. 

And the final question: “What recommendations do you have for DDS in executing this project?”

Dec. 20 is the deadline for interested individuals to submit their responses. DDS said it may also make the answers available to other agencies who are interested in leveraging similar capabilities.

Editor's note: This article was updated incorrect personnel numbers that were included in the request for information.