Review scolds FDA for lingering problems recruiting fresh talent

The FDA has made some improvements in the way it recruits new scientific talent, but the agency still has a long way to go to resolve some lingering, deep-seated staffing problems. That's the bottom line of a new report out from the Partnership for Public Service, which was tasked with reviewing the FDA's hiring process since an FDA board concluded 5 years ago that the agency had been unable to keep up with scientific advances in the biopharma field.

Looking at the staffing situation at CDER, CBER, CDRH and the regulatory office, FDA officials pointed their fingers at the "poor quality" of the centralized human resources department at HHS, which had created a hurdle on the hiring front. Complaints about the HR department persuaded HHS to hand responsibility for FDA hiring back to the agency in July. And the FDA vowed to make it work.

To make a go of the new initiative, the report says that the FDA needs to build a pipeline of talent in academic and industry circles, hunting down top new regulators with significant experience. Currently there's no "systematic" recruiting effort, inadequate training and a broad sense that the agency isn't providing enough opportunities to advance regulators' careers. And changing that won't be easy.

"The FDA faces fierce competition for top candidates in the science and technical fields from private industry, which can offer more attractive salaries, and from other government agencies," reports the Partnership. "The key to attracting the right people is to focus on the tools FDA offers--the learning opportunities, the immediate impact and the opportunity to improve public health and make a difference in people's lives."

- here's the report

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