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As we look forward to the beginning of 2014, I want to thank everyone in the OPM family for another extraordinary year of service to the federal workforce, to retirees, their families and the American people.
Looking back on 2013, OPM employees have worked through many challenges to achieve so much. And they never missed a beat in their efforts to ensure that the work of this vital agency continued. The agency made strides in such important areas as improving retirement processing, increasing the percentage of new hires who are veterans and people with disabilities, implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and beginning work on the reform of our IT systems.
And I want to thank OPM for welcoming me as its new Director and for the support I’ve been given as this important agency begins the next chapter in its history.
2014 is going to be an exciting and busy year. I’m looking forward to ensuring that OPM continues to make the federal government a model employer for the 21st Century. We must find ways to honor government employees here and around the world, strive to create a workforce that is engaged, innovative, inclusive and reflects the brilliant mosaic of the America we all serve.
All my best wishes for a Happy New Year!
As we celebrate the holidays this week, I want to take a moment to thank all OPM employees for their hard work and dedication to serving the Federal workforce, Federal annuitants, and their families all across this great country and the world.
What the workforce at OPM does every day means so much to so many people, and I didn’t want this season of caring and hope to go by without saying how much I appreciate all of their efforts. In addition, I am so grateful for the warm welcome everyone at the agency has given me as we begin this journey at OPM together.
For many, this will be a time to celebrate with loved ones both near and far. Children away at school will find their way home. The hustle and bustle of our busy lives will be put aside for a few days as we treasure the time away from the daily pressures of the important work of serving the nation.
Some will be on duty for the American people during this holiday season. Many Federal workers who maintain the safety of our airports, stand guard over Federal facilities, tend to our wounded warriors and perform so many other vital Government functions will remain vigilant during this holiday time. To them and everyone who makes up this world-class workforce, I thank you for your continued service.
I wish you and yours a Happy Holiday!
Federal employees do great work. On Friday, I asked federal employees to tell me about what they were proud of accomplishing in the past year. I got some great responses, and here were three of my favorites!
Steve Lewis at the US Trade and Development Agency shared some of their social media accomplishments from this past year. During World Trade Month they held three separate #TradeChats to talk about trade across the federal government. You can read all about it on their site: http://www.ustda.gov/tradechat/. It’s a great example of how federal agencies are using social media to reach their audiences.
Lisa Wolfisch shared on Twitter that she’s proud of making the U.S. Census Bureau data accessible in new ways. You can find out more about their accomplishments at www.census.gov/mobile.
And a user named Nic at Nite gave my favorite answer! I’ll let that tweet speak for itself.
Thank you all for participating. Keep sending me your successes; I always want to hear them because I know there is truly great work going on throughout the government 365 days a year. You can email them to email@example.com, tweet them @OPMDirector or leave me a comment on Facebook.
Today, OPM released the “2012 Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch Report.” This report has some very exciting news. At no point in the past 32 years have people with disabilities been hired at a higher percentage than in FY 2012. People with targeted disabilities are also being brought into the Federal workforce at a higher percentage now than at any time in the past 17 years. This success has led to more people with disabilities in Federal service, both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 32 years.
We have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities in 5 years (Executive Order 13548- Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities). I applaud my fellow Federal employees for their hard work and dedication. As I have said before, when we set the bar high, when we strive to push our own boundaries of thinking, we move the needle. And that is what we have done. By including more people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, we are stronger and better able to serve America.
Still, our work is not done. I want to encourage Federal employees and the disability community to continue the work of recruiting, retaining and including employees with disabilities at all levels of government. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities and to make sure that we are retaining this talent. We must continue to build stronger pipelines into Federal service and ensure that we are cultivating and attracting the talent that we need so that -- from resume through retirement-- we have the strongest workforce possible.
Today, the Partnership for Public Service released their “2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings. I’m proud to say that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management ranks in at #8 among mid-sized agencies.
The employees here at OPM deserve this recognition. Their focus on mission, and on public service, is what makes the U.S. Office of Personnel Management one of the best places to work in government. In my first week, I challenged OPM employees to set the bar high, to achieve what was previously thought impossible. Every day they rise to that challenge. That commitment to succeed is what makes this a great place to work.
From the Partnership for Public Service:
Designed to help a broad audience of government leaders, employees and job seekers, the 2013 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings drew on responses from more than 376,000 civil servants to produce a detailed view of employee satisfaction and commitment across 371 federal agencies and subcomponents.
The Partnership for Public Service uses data from the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to rank agencies and their subcomponents according to a Best Places to Work index score. Agencies and subcomponents are measured on overall employee satisfaction and scored on 10 workplace categories, such as effective leadership, employee skills–mission match, pay, teamwork and work–life balance.
The move to telework is working. This month we recognized the third anniversary of the Telework Enhancement Act and OPM issued its report to Congress that shows the progress we’re making on satisfying the requirements of the Act.
The share of federal employees eligible to telework has reached 47 percent, an increase of 49 percent from 2011, according to the report. This shows that federal agencies have made significant strides in increasing the use of telework, both to ensure that the vital operations of the federal government continue during emergency conditions and that such flexible work arrangements help federal employees better balance their work and personal life obligations.
I’m proud of how far we’ve come since 2010 when the Act was passed. But there is still more to do and we will continue to work with the agencies to spread the telework word.
Let me highlight some more of what’s in the report. There was a 30 percent increase in the number of eligible employees who teleworked throughout the fiscal year. And among all federal employees, those eligible to telework and those who are not, the use of this flexible work practice increased from 8 percent to 10 percent.
The report also says that in 2012, 76 percent of reporting agencies allowed eligible employees to telework and 88 percent of agencies let their employees know about their eligibility to telework. Further, 91 percent of agencies report notifying new employees of their telework eligibility.
The total number of employees eligible to take advantage of this flexible working arrangement increased significantly from 684,589 in 2011 to 1,020,034. The number of employees who had written telework agreements also rose in 2012, up to 267,227 from 144,851 in 2011.
This year’s report also points out how important the use of telework is when it comes to being prepared for emergencies. Overall, 81 percent of agencies have included information for the use of telework during emergencies in their telework policies and almost 50 percent provide training to employees on what is expected of them in an emergency. In addition, more employees are doing unscheduled telework, suggesting it is being used as a strategic tool for maintaining agency productivity and continuity.
Please take a look at the 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government Report to Congress at www.telework.gov.
Today I had the honor of being ceremonially sworn-in as Director of the Office of Personnel Management by Vice President Biden during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
While I was officially sworn-in when I first joined the OPM team, today's private ceremony allowed my family the time to travel to Washington and share in this wonderful and memorable experience. Later at my office at OPM we gathered a small group of colleagues and friends and I shared with them some thoughts on this special day.
I told them how honored I was that the President asked me to take on the challenge of leading such an important agency with an important mission. OPM touches the lives of so many people and provides a foundation for the work done all across the government because we manage people – the greatest asset we have.
I talked about wanting to instill in people all across this country the belief in the power of public service, and sharing with the American public the incredible work we do in the Federal government.
I want OPM to be an example of collaboration and inclusion for all government. And I asked representatives in the room from outside and inside of government to work with us as we tackle the tough challenges together.
This week more than 200 SES members were sworn-in as the newest career leaders of the Federal government. I had the honor of speaking to them at their orientation about the opportunities and responsibilities at the mantle of leadership.
The SES corps is the mobile, agile and strong leadership of the Federal service. In every agency, every department of the Federal government, the SES execute the challenging missions of the government and ensure the highest level of performance from our world class 21st Century Federal workforce.
I challenged these new leaders sworn in this week to aim high, to dream the impossible and to collaborate with their colleagues at every level. I stressed that true leadership also means extending a hand to the next generation of SES members. We need a bench of leadership, and it must be rich with the diversity of the country.
Even as these new SES leaders assume their responsibilities, the search for the next SES class has begun. With the President’s Management Council, I’m working to see how we can improve on the processes and procedures for recruiting, hiring and evaluating SES members.
So I congratulate our new SES class and look forward to the great work they will do for the American people.
I know everyone is inundated with holiday sales and limited time offers, but here is one limited time offer that you should pay attention to. This Monday, December 9, is the last day to make changes to your benefits for next year.
So why not take a few minutes today and review your options. Open Season allows for you to make changes to your Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) coverage, the amount of contributions to your Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS), and coverage for under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
If you want to stay in the same FEHB or FEDVIP plan, you don’t have to do anything. But remember, you have to re-enroll every year for the Flexible Spending Account program. Visit our Open Season website for general questions, to review plan options, and for all the information you’ll need. And if you still have questions, contact your agency human resources office.
The official start of Winter is only a couple of weeks away. While we are all hoping for an uneventful winter weather season, this is the perfect time to remind Federal employees in the DC area how we decide when to change the status of the Federal Government.
There are two primary considerations we make in deciding the status of Federal Government operations for the DC area. The first is the safety of the Federal workforce and the surrounding community. Our employees are our most important asset. The second is continuity of operations. The government never really closes. Emergency response personnel and teleworkers keep our operations going even when employees can’t physically get to work.
Preparedness is a year round activity. It is important that agencies and employees know their personnel designations, telework policies and emergency preparedness plans before an event occurs. The past few years have taught us that our Dismissal and Closure procedures extend beyond just winter weather emergencies and can be necessary at any time.
During a webcast earlier today, Dean Hunter, OPM's Director of Facilities, Security and Contracting, walked us through the decision-making process and Brenda Roberts, OPM’s leave administration manager, gave an overview of the policy that informs those decisions. The National Weather Service also gave us an idea of what winter has in store for us this year.
We want to ensure that Federal workers stay safe and that we continue to serve the American people even during times of difficult weather events. And the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone to be informed.
So, please take a few minutes to watch our video below and read the updated Dismissal and Closure Guide on the OPM website. And if you didn't get a chance to tune in to the full webcast, it will be available soon on our YouTube channel.
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