Attracting and Hiring Climate Change Talent


As the next Administration seeks to tackle the wide ranging and growing challenges associated with climate change, the need for an effective and efficient federal government workforce has never been clearer.

Over the last four years, staff working in key roles across the federal government on issues related to climate change have been demoralized, sidelined or have left their roles altogether. As new leadership teams take the helm, they will inherit a workforce that has experienced a prolonged, systematic assault to disable effective capacities, demoralize its highly knowledgeable and dedicated staff, and undercut its own legal authorities. New leadership will need to both communicate a compelling long-term vision on combating climate change and quickly motivate, activate, recruit, hire, and retain dedicated career leadership and expert staff to supply analyses, ideas, and approaches to achieve that vision.

Achieving ambitious climate goals will require rebuilding capacity across federal departments and agencies, which means the new administration must mobilize existing federal employees and forge working relationships with key career employees on the agency and departmental level who will help facilitate hiring and recruitment efforts. Federal agencies and the Executive Office of the President will need to quickly assess vacancies, determine roles that will need to be created to support new initiatives, and generate targeted recruitment plans to attract top-tier talent.

The new administration will need to understand and avail itself of the full range of hiring authorities that exist across the federal government and the tools that will allow it to bring in talent for both the short and long term. Given the diversity of agency-specific needs and authorities, the transition and landing teams should also prioritize building a strong foundational understanding of effective hiring authorities and effective, respectful working relationships with agency hiring teams that can be deployed as newly minted political appointees work with existing career federal employees to revitalize and restock the government’s climate change workforce.

Lead Authors

Michael Amato, Amato Advisors, former Communications Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Tim Profeta, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

* Professional affiliations do not imply organizational or governmental endorsement of these recommendations