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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gov’t to use AI to recruit public workers

Zahira Maldonado, executive director of the Office of Human Resources Administration and Transformation (Gov. Pedro Pierluisi/Facebook)

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico government, which has long been accused of using political considerations instead of merit in its hiring, is now exploring using artificial intelligence to recruit workers.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the executive director of the Office of Human Resources Administration and Transformation (OATRH by its Spanish initials), Zahira Maldonado, announced the start of a pilot plan that seeks to reform talent acquisition and management processes using artificial intelligence (AI).

With the project, Puerto Rico has become one of the first jurisdictions nationwide where the public sector is working on a skills-based talent recruitment approach using AI.

The initiative is part of a collaboration between the OATRH and the Financial Oversight and Management Board as part of a process to implement public service reform.

The new platform, which will begin as a pilot project, was developed by Eightfold AI, a technology company specializing in AI solutions applied to human resources and talent management. The government agencies participating in the pilot plan are the departments of Treasury, Economic Development & Commerce, and Education, and the Office of Management and Budget, the Institute of Forensic Sciences, the Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service (PRITS), and OATRH.

“My administration and I are extremely committed to our public servants, to ensuring that they are properly trained and compensated, and to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have the best talent, we have to provide them with an efficient government that is responsive to their needs,” the governor said during the announcement, at which Arnaldo Cruz, the oversight board’s director of research and public policy, as well as PRITS Executive Director Antonio Ramos were also present. “Today, we take another step forward in our public service reform and announce the start of another cutting-edge project that improves the recruitment of government personnel and is part of our continued efforts to optimize the management of our human resources, guided by the principle of merit in recruiting.”

The governor noted that two years ago, “we launched the original platform,, where people could view and apply for positions currently available in the government. In this new version, interested applicants can upload their resume to the system, and it will match the calls for which they qualify, according to their skills.”

“Likewise, the platform will use artificial intelligence technology, advanced machine learning algorithms and predictive analysis that will help both the applicant and the recruiter match the best person with the most suitable position, according to their qualities,” Pierluisi added.

On the platform, each applicant can be part of the government’s Talent Network, once they upload their resume to the system, so that future recruiters can search for available candidates. At the same time, the platform will advise applicants to improve their resumes and help them prepare them.

Maldonado stated that “following our vision of having a centralized, uniform, effective human resources system with the best talents we have in Puerto Rico, we have developed a platform that allows accessibility and an easy recruitment process using artificial intelligence as assistance.”

“This is another important link in the reform to make the government more competitive and attractive,” she said. “With the implementation of the classification and compensation plan last year we were finally able to establish competitive salaries for positions. Now we want the best talents in Puerto Rico to see the government as a place of development and growth.”

Robert Mujica, the executive director of the oversight board, said “we will continue to collaborate with the government in this reform, which is essential for the transformation of the government and to meet the objectives of PROMESA [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act].”

“We congratulate the government for taking this great step,” he said. “They have our support and collaboration.”

As part of the pilot project, the OATRH issued special standards, developed jointly with the oversight board, that apply to human resources processes in the participating agencies. The regulations govern the implementation of new talent acquisition and management processes so that the viability and effects of those processes can be evaluated and the corresponding modifications made, before their final application to the rest of the government.

“This is truly innovative work within the public sector that could become a model for other governments within the States, and internationally, on how to use AI for talent acquisition and improving growth opportunities for government employees,” said Kevin Burgess, director of Eightfold’s public sector practice.

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