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Our Director Director's Blog

Welcome! We are committed to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people.

Take a look at our blogs and share with others. Once you are on a particular blog page, you can give us the thumbs up. Connect with Acting Director Cobert on Twitter: @OPMDirector and Facebook.com/OPMDirector. Also, find us on other social media channels.

Flag background with stars, 4th of July Independence Day 1776 written in the center

Each year, Americans celebrate Independence Day with parties, fireworks, parades, and concerts. But not all Americans will be grilling out with family and friends. Federal workers across the country will be hard at work on Monday, serving in a multitude of ways. As we celebrate, let’s take a moment to recognize their service.

If you plan on enjoying the holiday weekend at one of America’s national parks, you will surely run into a National Park Ranger. They are responsible for protecting and supervising our parks 365 days a year. They also help make visiting our parks safe and a memorable experience, including giving guided tours to millions of Americans and tourists from around the world.

Law enforcement and medical personnel will also be standing their posts on the Fourth of July. In the Washington D.C. metro area, United States Capitol Police and Secret Service agents will be on high alert, protecting our elected officials and the thousands of tourists coming into the District of Columbia to celebrate the Fourth.

And just like doctors, nurses, and EMT’s in the private sector, medical personnel working for the Federal Government will be busy taking care of patients on the holiday.  Twenty million Americans are veterans and they receive medical care at the many VA hospitals and clinics across the country.

In this year’s proclamation in honor of Public Service Recognition Week, the President highlighted how the country’s progress is fueled by selfless citizens who dedicate their lives to serving their fellow Americans and working towards making our country the best it can be.

“Civil servants demonstrate resolve and inspire optimism in sectors throughout our country. They are engineers and educators, military service members and social workers, and their individual and collective contributions drive us forward on the path toward an ever brighter tomorrow,” the proclamation said.

This Fourth of July, while you are celebrating with family and friends, please take a moment to remember the dedicated public servants who are spending their day at work, helping to ensure our country remains safe for all who call America home. 


Each day, 1.8 million hard-working Federal employees across the world dedicate themselves to serving the American people with passion, creativity, and innovation.

To make sure that we can continue this quality of service for years to come, the Office of Personnel Management and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, and the Presidential Personnel Office launched the Hiring Excellence Campaign, an effort to improve the way we recruit new talent to Federal service. As the President’s Management Agenda highlights, to remain competitive in today’s labor market, we must modernize and transform the way we recruit and hire Federal employees.

So, now I want to take a moment to talk to you – the hiring managers and the human resources teams. The Hiring Excellence Campaign was designed specifically for you based on extensive feedback we’ve received from agency leaders, HR staff, and hiring managers. We want to give you all of the information, tools, and support you need to attract and hire a world-class workforce.

To get this information to you we are holding free, one-day Hiring Excellence training sessions across the country focused on the theme, “Connecting with Top Talent.” We have held 21 training sessions so far and will hold an additional 16 sessions throughout FY 2016. 

In the session, OPM’s team will share best practices, mythbusters, and hiring tools – some of which you may not realize you already have at your fingertips. For example, there is a wide range of strategic recruitment strategies and hiring authorities, from disability hiring to excepted service to direct hire authorities, available to you to identify and hire top talent. There are also multiple ways for you to assess applicants to make sure they are the top qualified candidates for your position. We’ll also dive into effective techniques for collaborating between HR staff and hiring managers to help you improve hiring outcomes in your agency.

We also want to make sure you are familiar with the updates to USAJOBS that benefit both you and applicants.

On the hiring manager and HR staff end, USAJOBS now has an Agency Talent Portal that provides tools to help agencies find and recruit talent. Additionally, you can take advantage of a new job opportunity announcement analytics dashboard to measure how effective recruitment and hiring was for a position. We also have a resume mining pilot that can help you use USAJOBS to find qualified candidates already registered with the website to apply for a position.

On the applicant side, USAJOBS offers a map search feature to help job seekers see jobs across the world that they may be interested in. We also updated the application process to help applicants work through a simple, five-step tracker to create an application package. It allows applicants to easily edit their documents within the application and not have to go back to their profiles each time. And, USAJOBS is now designed to be accessible on any mobile device.

These and many more tools will be covered in our Hiring Excellence sessions, and we hope you can join us for one of them. Register now for upcoming dates in cities across the Nation; please register for the session that best meets your needs. Our next sessions are in Detroit on July 12th and Nashville on July 14th.

Hiring is one of a manager’s most important responsibilities and the human resources team is a crucial partner. Together you are the key to building hiring excellence across government.

Be sure to check out the training registration links, resources and additional information on our new Hiring Excellence hub that we’ll be regularly updating – www.opm.gov/hiringexcellence.


Last week, thousands of Americans came together in Washington, D.C. for the first ever United State of Women conference, a day-long celebration of what women have achieved and a conversation about the important work we still need to do to reach gender equality.

I’m happy to say that like many agencies throughout the Federal Government, as an active member of the White House Council on Women and Girls, OPM participated in the lead-up to this historic event. We provided information about the status of women in the Federal service – from narrowing the gender pay gap to flexibilities and work-life programs that make it easier for women – and men – to succeed in the workplace, to the Federal Government’s record of hiring women, especially in some mission critical positions.

As you’ll see in the Women in the Federal Workforce infographics, today the 897,892 women who work for the Federal Government make up 44 percent of the entire Federal workforce. Women are succeeding across government – from entry-level positions to various leadership roles. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • The number of Federal women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – or STEM – fields is on the rise. In 2008, 64,574 were working in Federal STEM jobs. That number rose to 70,047 in 2015. Women have been hired at an increasing rate into the Pathways Programs, including the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) programs. The PMF is the Federal Government’s flagship leadership development program, which has a special STEM track.

  • The  representation  of  women  in  the Senior Executive Service (SES), the  Federal Government’s highest  career  level, increased by five percent between  2008  and  2015. And OPM is working with agencies across government to increase awareness of leadership development programs like Executive Women in Motion and other mentoring and training opportunities.

By creating opportunity at every level of the workforce, we are working to attract, empower, and retain a talented and productive workforce.  Our commitment to workplace flexibilities and employee wellness makes the Federal service an ideal place for employees to build their careers and cultivate fulfilling lives outside the workplace.

Building on directives from the President, OPM developed two comprehensive handbooks and an online training course to help Federal employees better understand their leave and workplace flexibility options, including providing support for elder care, childbirth, adoption, and foster care.

The government continues to be a model employer for men and women in helping them maintain a healthy work-life balance and feel fulfilled in their jobs. Data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) shows that satisfaction with Federal work-life programs is very high among women – and men - who participate in programs such as flexible work schedules, telework, health and wellness programs, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), child care programs, and elder care programs.

The data also shows that the gender pay gap in the Federal government continues to narrow. In 2014, nationally, women were paid 79 cents for every dollar a man was paid. In 2015, across the Federal Government, women in white-collar jobs were paid 89 cents on the dollar. With more women than ever contributing to the government’s mission critical occupations, the gender pay gap continues to narrow even more for women working in STEM, IT/cyber security, economist, auditor, contract specialist, and human resources positions jobs. In the Senior Executive Service, as of 2015, women were paid equally with their male counterparts.

In April of 2014, in response to a memorandum from the President, OPM issued a Governmentwide Strategy on Advancing Pay Equality in the Federal Government. Since that strategy was issued, OPM has taken a number of actions to narrow the gender pay gap in the Federal workforce. For example, on July 30, 2015, we issued a memorandum cautioning agencies not to solely use a job candidate’s existing salary to set pay, as that can potentially adversely affect candidates who may have taken time off from their careers or whose existing salary doesn’t reflect an applicant’s current qualifications.  


The summit shone a spotlight on the accomplishments women have made in the workplace and on the work still to be done. At OPM and across the Federal Government, we continue to work to make sure all employees are aware of the workplace flexibilities they may be eligible for, and to encourage women – and men – to work in the many mission critical occupations and to apply for leadership positions.


Black background with gay pride flag shaped in a heart, with the words '2016 Pride Inside and Out, LGBT Pride Month'

June is Pride Month and each year we set aside this month to reaffirm our commitment to equal opportunity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government sets an example and tone for all other employers, an example that reinforces the fact that employment discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is simply unacceptable.

This June, across the Federal family and throughout the nation, Americans are grieving and angry at the horrific massacre at a nightclub in Orlando. As the President said in the aftermath of the shootings:  “As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”

All of our people.

As Federal employees and as Americans, we will stand together and refuse to allow the brutal murders in Orlando to deter us. This is a time for the Federal community to come together, to support each other, and to not let this tragedy lessen our resolve to continue the important work of promoting equal opportunity and preventing discrimination.

At OPM we have been at the forefront of implementing Administration policy and court decisions that expand rights for the LGBT community. When the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that the Federal Government must recognize same-sex marriages in states where they were allowed, OPM was the first agency to roll out benefits. Even before the Windsor decision, OPM spearheaded and effort to expand agencies’ ability to extend benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees and their children where the law would permit.

The President also issued an Executive Order making it clear that Federal employees and employees of Federal contractors are protected from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

President Obama spoke of this commitment in his Pride Month proclamation: “There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts -- that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

We still have work to do and it would be a disservice to the LGBT community – as well as all minority communities – to suggest that discrimination is a thing of the past. But here at OPM we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent any discrimination in our Federal workplaces. We have worked to make sure LGBT employees have the same rights and benefits as all Federal employees. From health insurance to leave to care for a same-sex partner when they are sick, our hope is to make sure that no Federal employee ever receives unequal treatment.

We also want to make sure that members of the LGBT community and all Federal employees who experience any type of discrimination in the Federal workplace know their options for recourse. That is why on June 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.  OPM will be hosting an event at its headquarters entitled “Addressing LGBT Discrimination in Federal Employment.” The program will also be webcast. We hope you will join us as representatives from the Equal Opportunity Employment Council, Office of Special Counsel, and OPM discuss what protections exist and how to handle any discrimination that you may experience in the workplace.

Not only is discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity illegal, it also diminishes the Federal Government’s ability to hire, retain, and promote a talented workforce. I urge everyone to take time this month – and every month throughout the year- to support the members of the LGBT community all across this country who work to eliminate and prevent discrimination everywhere.


Pink speach bubble with green background. Speach bubble contains the following 'WILL NEVER REACH YOUR SUPERVISOR OR COLLEAGUES'. Headline reads 'HOW YOU SPECIFICALLY ANSWER'. Lower corner right pink colored sub text reads '#FEVS'

Stephen Shih is Deputy Associate Director, Employee Services, Executive Resources and Employee Development at OPM. 

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is one of the most important tools we have in government. It provides us with a tremendous amount of data on the experiences and views of Federal employees. In 2015, more than 421,700 Federal employees from 78 different agencies completed the FEVS, voicing their perceptions of leadership practices, training and development, work-life, and opportunities for career advancement.

We listened.

OPM has been working in partnership with agency leaders across government to help them make data-driven changes that will improve employee engagement, which in turn will lead to organizational success.  We're committed to fostering conversations about the drivers of engagement identified by the FEVS, sharing effective tools and strategies developed by agencies to improve employees' experiences, and creating government-wide resources to provide all employees with access to critical data and information.  For example, OPM recently released more no cost, online courses for Federal employees -- Maximizing Employee Engagement and Introduction to Leave, Work-Life and Workplace Flexibilities as well as a portal focused on employee engagement--UnlockTalent.gov.

OPM is not the only agency taking action.  Senior leaders and managers across the Federal Government gained insights from your feedback and are implementing innovative solutions to create a culture of engagement.  Here are just a few examples:

  • The Department of State's workforce said it wanted work-life supports, so their agency's approach to engagement involves maximizing the availability and use of work-life programs.  Through strategic partnerships among senior leaders, employee affinity groups, and unions, they've achieved progressive outcomes, such as the establishment of a back-up dependent care program, new lactation rooms, and the launch of a leave bank.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) identified challenges with performance management from the FEVS results and is committed to making meaningful changes to address this area of employee concern.  One strategy DOJ developed is  training for all second-level supervisors that stresses the need that performance measures are applied in the same way for all employees.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs answered its employees desire for more leadership training. The VA developed a very successful Leaders Developing Leaders program.  Since its inception, they trained 450 Senior Executive Service members and are bringing the program to many more employees.  The goal is to train 10,000-12,000 leaders.

Agencies across the Federal Government are making strides like this to build the workforce we need to serve the American people in the future.

But we know cultivating a culture of engagement is an ongoing process of listening to employees, identifying challenges, and working together to develop and implement solutions.  That's why it's critical that you participate in this year's FEVS.  We need you to tell us what's working and what still needs to be improved.

Leaders at every level from agency heads to front-line supervisors are listening. Take the survey today. Let your voice be heard.


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