HR Management Paper on U.S. Department of the Interior: Attorney-Advisor

U.S. Department of the Interior: Attorney – Advisor

Name of Organization: U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor

Business Strategy and Goals

The U.S Department of the Interior (DOI) is tasked with the mission of managing and protecting the natural resources of the country and its cultural heritage. Divided into 10 different bureaus, the department is also responsible for providing scientific and other required information about the resources it is mandated to protect and manage. Additionally, the department is responsible for honoring the national responsibilities of trust to the Alaskan Natives, American Indians and all other affiliated island communities. The activities of the department are categorized based on the specific bureaus assigned the role of the department. These activities cover a broad spectrum, hence the DOI is often referred to as ‘the department of everything else’ (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2017). Some of the bureaus associated with the department include the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation and others. For the year 2018 to 2022, the DOI has developed a comprehensive strategic plan founded on the values of effective and accountable leadership, field empowerment, striking a balance, improvement of the infrastructure, restoring trust and generating revenue (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2017). Each of these values influences decision making at the DOI as well as at the bureau level.

The DOI has a clearly stipulated mission, which is divided into six distinctive mission areas namely, conserving the national land and water; revenue generation and utilization of natural resources; expansion of outdoor recreation facilities and access; improving the national insular responsibilities and fulfilling the DOI’s trust; protecting the peoples and the borders of the nation; and modernizing the DOI organization and infrastructures for the next century (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2017). Each of these mission areas is associated with a series of specific and time-bound goals which the organization intends to achieve by 2022. Each goal is also linked to an implementation strategy and a performance measurement strategy description.

Job Identification: Attorney- Advisor with the DOI, Office of the Solicitor

One of the positions that will be useful for the DOI in its efforts to accomplish its mission and goals for the stated period is that of the Attorney- Advisor with the DOI. The role, for which the DOI is currently hiring, is a knowledge based role in which understanding the core competencies is more essential than providing a general job description. The incumbent in the position is responsible for providing a variety of services to the DOI across all its bureaus. For instance, the Attorney – advisor is responsible for performing roles such as providing legal advice and representation to the DOI and its bureaus; drafting litigation filings for the BSEE and other bureaus; reviewing existing and new legislations that affect the operations of the BSEE, and handling assigned legal responsibilities within the DOI independently. Any candidate for the position must be an active member of the bar and a practicing attorney. For this reason, the job requires not only a job description and a skills list, but also a comprehensive competency model that will provide all the job details.

Data Collection

Developing a competency model requires an understanding of the role that the competency model will play in the context of the targeted job. For instance, for the attorney-advisor role in the DOI, the specific job expectations are intensive, requiring an active candidate that knows his/ her capabilities. The competency model will answer questions related to the job expectations; the level of fit between the job and other positions in the organization, the type and characteristics of systems supports needed; the competency requirements for the job, and the anticipated changes in job requirements (McLagan, 1996). To provide all these information in the competency model, the data collection process must be rigorous. Data collection will be conducted through the use of a multi-method approach, involving qualitative interviews and surveys. These data collection methods will engage several members of the DOI across multiple organizational hierarchy levels. The objective will be to provide information that will give a 360 degrees perspective to the job environment; provide a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the role; identify organizational level supports and challenges that the incumbent is likely to meet; and to uncover the key challenges in the organization. This is recommended by Derven (2008).

Competency Model

The core competency for which the candidate for this role ought to be evaluated is legal competency. Additionally, the incumbent could be evaluated for creativity and judgment as part of the core competencies related to his/ her performance. According to McLagan (1996), a competency model is best suited for knowledge jobs such as the present one, where creativity and independent judgment are essential for performance. In this context, legal competence will be described based on the description by Cooper (1991), which includes the knowledge of an individual about the legal subject area, their practice outcomes, and their capacity to know their limits.


To validate the competency model, legal judgment will be measured through its elements as described by Cooper (1991). These elements include the extent to which the attorney is knowledgeable about his/ her field of practice; the extent to which the candidate performs his/ her practice techniques; the efficiency of managing his/ her practice; the capacity of the candidate to identify his/ her competency limits and the level of preparedness of the attorney. These can be validated through specific high intensity situational analyses where the candidate has to use a lot of creativity and personal judgment.




Cooper, J. (1991). What is legal competency? The Modern Law Review, 54, 112- 121. Retrieved from

Derven, M. (2008). Lessons learned: Using competency models to target training needs. T + D, 62(12), 68.

McLagan, P. (1996). Great ideas revisited: Competency models – creating the future of HRD. Training and Development, 50(1), 60-65.

U.S. Department of the Interior (2017). Strategic plan for fiscal years 2018- 2022. U.S Department of the Interior.