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Our Director Director's Blog

April 30 is America’s PrepareAthon! National Day of Action. OPM is a national partner in this  nationwide, community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness and resilience.

As part of our support for the PrepareAthon, OPM will conduct a shelter-in-place exercise, designed to be activated during a tornado or dangerous wind and rain storm. The exercise gets us away from windows and other unsafe areas and may require us to go to the upper or lower parts of the building. It is also a part of our Dismissal and Closure Guide and is an important element of our toolkit for keeping employees safe while they are at work.

OPM will be one of many workplaces – as well as individual homes and communities – that will use tomorrow to practice for worst-case scenarios. These situations can be daunting. Our default often is not to think about such possibilities at all. But America’s PrepareAthon! emphasizes that we need to take the time to prepare now so that emergencies don’t catch us off guard.

There’s a lot to consider when preparing for an emergency. Take a moment to think about it. What’s your preparedness quotient? Do you pay attention to community alerts or warning systems? Do you have a preparedness plan? Have you talked about and practiced that plan with your family? Do you know what hazards are most likely to happen in your area?

Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count. These are just a few of the things to consider during tomorrow’s Day of Action.

Whether you’re participating in a drill, crafting a plan with your family, or attending a community awareness event, be sure to take a few moments tomorrow to get prepared. If you’re here at OPM Headquarters, take a minute to review Occupant Emergency Plan. And everyone should check out the resources on ready.gov.

As this past winter taught us, when we’re prepared we can stay safe and work together to continue serving the American people, no matter the circumstances.

 

 


I have some exciting news. A week from today I will be on the field at Nationals Park. And you can be too.  

On Tuesday, May 6th, the Washington Nationals will help us celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) by hosting “Federal Employee Appreciation Night,” and they’ve invited me to throw out the first pitch. 

And the best part is that I’m bringing five Federal employees on to the field with me. 
This week and next, use hashtag #FEDSpirit on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to publicly recognize a Federal employee who represents the spirit of PSRW. We know there are inspirational, empowering, and exciting stories of Federal employees just waiting to be told. And we’re counting on you to share them.

On Monday, I’ll ask five Federal employees who represent the spirit of Public Service Recognition Week to join me on the field as I make my major league baseball debut. 

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook through @OPMDirector for updates. I can’t wait to hear the #FEDSpirit stories you have to share.  

 A quick note: The invited Federal employees will be responsible for their transportation to the ballpark and for getting tickets to the game. 


Today General Services Administration Administrator Dan Tangherlini and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seals an important partnership that will give agencies a more efficient, more reliable, and more effective way to get the best available training and human capital resources to Federal employees.

Under this agreement, we are merging the breadth of GSA’s acquisition capabilities, tools and strategic sourcing experience with OPM’s expertise in human capital and training to form a more powerful Government solution. Our effort also is aligned with the President’s Management Agenda because it will achieve government-wide savings and efficiencies through Federal strategic sourcing. Through this effort, we will support Federal employees as they continue to provide excellent service to the American people.

This partnership acknowledges the changing Federal landscape. It recognizes OPM’s strategic goals, the current budgetary realities across government and the need to better support the mission of the Federal agencies that OPM serves.

One of my highest priorities as OPM Director is to support agencies in meeting their most challenging human capital needs, including the training and development of our Federal workforce. This partnership will help empower agencies to better accomplish that goal.

Since one of the roles of OPM is to assist the Federal agencies to develop their federal training and career development opportunities, this new partnership is just one way we are going to make that process more efficient, effective, and reliable for agencies. Federal employees must see a clear career path, and we must make sure agencies are providing training and mentoring. We must make sure that from resume to retirement, Federal employees have the processes in place to support their career development.

Through this agreement, OPM will be able to more effectively get the tools they need to fulfill their training and human capital needs. And ensuring that our workforce has what it needs to succeed is one of my highest priorities.



Earlier this month, OPM issued a regulation that I believe will build on the more than 50-year success of the Combined Federal Campaign. It will revitalize the program to make it even better, both for the charities that participate and for our Federal employees.

I understand that change can be difficult, especially when changes are made to a system that has been in place for a long time. But, I believe that the improvements we announced on April 11, 2014 will strengthen and invigorate this vital program for the next half century. The rule was the product of a process that we can be proud of: a bipartisan commission, headed by one Republican and one Democrat.

Federal employees asked for change to the CFC system. They wanted lower overhead costs. They wanted more of their money to go directly to the charities they support.

OPM listened.

Let me give you a hypothetical example of how the CFC operates currently: A DC-area Federal employee donates $1 to a medical research charity. But this $1 first goes to the CFC of the National Capital Area, operated by a nonprofit group selected by local employees to administer the campaign. The National Capital Area CFC takes 9 cents on the dollar to cover its costs to promote the giving campaign and to process contributions. So, the research charity now is receiving 91 cents. Then, because the charity belongs to one of the many federations in the CFC, another deduction -- as much as 25 cents on the dollar -- goes to the federation to cover its administrative costs. (It’s not clear how large a share goes to the federations, which do not always disclose that information.) That leaves the charity with as little as 66 cents of the employee’s original dollar.

Under the rule change, closer to 99 cents will make it to the medical research charity. That’s because the charity will pay only a set fee to OPM’s CFC program to cover the expense of participating in the campaign. These are estimates from our CFC program office, which has spent countless hours analyzing the potential effects of the rule.

Charities receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year by participating in the campaign. The rule change will ensure that Federal employees are able to maximize their contributions and know that the greatest possible share is helping people. It will facilitate transparency and improve accountability. It will make it easier to donate and quicker for charities to acknowledge contributions, and it will offer greater options for giving. Also, both donors and charities will benefit from a central website that will be a robust online presence making it easy to search for and donate to preferred organizations.

The current system limits small local charities both geographically and technologically. They can receive CFC funds only from Federal employees in the area where they are located. With the changes, they will have access to potential donors nationally and from Federal givers around the globe.

OPM recently released CFC results for 2013. What these numbers show is a continued decline in donations, from $258 million in 2012 to $210 million. It is clear that change is needed in order to sustain, modernize and improve the program. I believe that these reforms offer that opportunity.  

Some charities have argued that the new application fees may disproportionately affect smaller charities and make it more difficult for them to participate in the Federal giving campaign. But, 20 percent of charities that are listed currently receive no donations, yet they still incur the administrative costs associated with being listed. I believe that the charities that do value participation in the CFC will be willing to pay the fee in order to have access to our generous Federal workforce. As I have personally told many of the charities expressing concern, I am open to discussing the fee structure.

Another purpose of this reform is to better use technology to lower costs and free campaign workers from paperwork so they can focus on making the CFC campaign thrive and connect Federal employees to charities locally, nationally and internationally. Electronic pledging and donation procedures will do just that.

Most Federal donors pay for their CFC pledges through payroll deductions, not by cash or check. Less than 10 percent of donations were made with cash in 2012. Most cash and check donations came from agency bake sales, book sales and other events held to generate interest in the campaign. Federal agencies put a lot of effort into organizing events, yet the undesignated cash that result from them makes up a very small percentage -- 2 to 3 percent -- of CFC funds raised. Checks will still be accepted and so will debit card payments. They will just be processed electronically.

With pledges made solely online, campaign workers will no longer manually re-enter the information from pledge forms. Time will be saved. Errors will also be reduced with a seamless digital process. Money will be saved by eliminating paper pledge forms, which currently account for more than 9 percent of total CFC costs. Eliminating the cost of processing paper in the CFC supports “green” initiatives and achieves the Administration’s goal of cutting down on waste.

We remain fully committed to working closely with charities and key stakeholders as we implement the final rule. I want to thank the dedicated Federal employees who, year in and year out, contribute to this program worldwide. And I also want to thank the volunteers who each year make the CFC campaign a success. The CFC is the Federal employees’ workplace-giving program, run by and for Feds. This new rule will ensure its success for years to come.


Recently, you may have heard about a new internet security weakness, known as Heartbleed, which is impacting some websites. There is no indication that Heartbleed has been used against OPM.gov or that any personal information has ever been at risk. However, we are asking users to change their current password for e-QIP applications out of an abundance of caution to ensure the protection of your information.

 


We’ve just announced an exciting alliance between the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the University of Maryland University College (UMUC).  UMUC will offer a 25 percent discount on out-of-state tuition rates on courses, certificates, and degree programs to all current Federal employees, spouses, and their legal dependents.

This alliance will increase all Federal employees’ access to high quality and affordable educational resources. One of my top priorities at OPM is to provide our Federal workforce – from resume to retirement – with the training and tools they need to provide excellent service to the American people and to progress and develop in their careers. This alliance will give us just such a tool.

The 25 percent discount will apply to all undergraduate programs and most graduate programs.

Anyone interested can begin to take advantage of this discounted tuition as early as the summer semester at UMUC. Registration for the first online summer session ends on May 14, 2014. UMUC offers two additional online summer sessions in June and July. So, make sure you visit UMUC for more information as well as the application and enrollment instructions.

Frequently asked questions about this exciting opportunity are available through the CHCO memo announcement.

Image with education graphics and UMUC logo on right


70,000 emergency responses to natural disasters. A free mammography program for women in need. 4,000 children adopted. 500 internships for Hispanic students. 2.8 million AIDS/HIV patients helped.

Those are just some of the ways that more than 24,000 nonprofit charities will use the millions of dollars raised by the Combined Federal Campaign. I want to thank the dedicated Federal employees who year in and year out contribute to this program worldwide. And I also want to thank the volunteers who make the CFC campaign a success each year.

Earlier this week, OPM submitted a final rule to the Federal Register that we believe will build on the more than 50-year success of the CFC and revitalize the program to make it even better, both for the charities who participate and for our Federal employees.

These regulations will mean that more of a Federal worker’s contribution to the CFC will go directly to the charities they want to help. They will mean that the operation of the CFC will be more transparent, more cost-effective and more convenient. They will mean that the CFC will take advantage of the latest cost-saving technology in a transition to online giving.

These new regulations were developed in consultation with Federal employees, charitable organizations, watchdog groups and campaign administrators. The final rule is a result of not only the collaboration with the charities that benefit from our Federal employees’ donations, but also with the public. We received more than 1,000 comments during the review process.

We understand that some groups have expressed apprehension over these changes. We take these concerns seriously and remain fully committed to working closely with charities and key stakeholders as we implement the final rule. Under the new rule, federal employees are able to maximize their contributions and know that the greatest amount of their donations goes directly to the charities that they choose.

Year after year, Federal employees have been incredibly generous in giving to the CFC. In its more than 50-year history, more than $7 billion have been raised for thousands of charities.

These changes will expand the opportunities for giving, both for new employees who will be able to enroll soon after joining the Federal government and through a new Disaster Relief Program, designed to make sure that those in need get help when they need it most.

Every day, the CFC continues to fulfill the dream of its founder: President John F. Kennedy. I believe that the improvements we are announcing today will strengthen and invigorate this vital program for the next half century.

To view OPM’s Fact Sheet on the final rule’s key changes, please visit: www.opm.gov/cfc.  

Select this link to view OPM's News Release.


This week, as part of his agenda for expanding opportunity for all Americans and building an economy that works for everyone, President Obama took action to strengthen the enforcement of equal pay laws for employees of Federal contractors. The President also again called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would extend these same protections to all workers.

One of the executive actions the President signed on Tuesday provides a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers will have better data to combat any potential pay discrimination or disparities of which they otherwise may have been unaware.

Today, as part of our larger focus on ensuring transparency within the Federal government, the Office of Personnel Management is releasing a study the President ordered to examine the federal government’s progress to guarantee that all workers can earn a fair and equal wage.

Our report, a Government-wide Strategy on Advancing Pay Equality, looks at the pay of Federal employees over the past 20 years and finds that while we have made important progress toward closing the gender wage gap, we still have work to do.

According to our comprehensive, in-depth review of 37 white-collar Federal job categories, in 2012, women were paid 87 cents for every dollar that a man was paid. In 1992, women in the Federal workforce made just 70 cents on the dollar.

This is a significant improvement over the past 20 years. In fact, when we looked at individual occupations and pay grades, we found that men and women in many occupations make comparable pay.

We also found that there was greater pay equity in occupations and grade levels across Federal white-collar employment.

But while our report shows the progress that we’ve made, we won’t be satisfied until women working in federal jobs earn the same as their male counterparts, at every level. That’s why our report also lays out a roadmap for how we can continue to address this pay disparity. For starters, we need to address the imbalance of hiring in all occupations.  We need to build stronger pipelines for women across the board. We also must improve the transparency of our pay tables, particularly when it comes to starting salaries for women, which tend to lag behind men’s.

We also still have work to do when it comes to managers and executives. It is encouraging that our report found that the salary gap for supervisors and managers was less than five cents on the dollar, and for women in the Senior Executive Service (SES), the highest level of Federal leadership, the gap is less than one penny on the dollar.

But women also hold only just one third of these positions – and that’s a number that needs to grow. That’s why we have made it a top priority to mentor women who hold GS14 and GS15 positions to advance into SES jobs. We are doing this nationwide, by connecting SES women working with local Federal Executive Boards to hold coffee chats and other mentoring programs. We’re working with women’s Employee Resource Groups to develop strong training and information programs about how best to get to the SES.

We have a clear guiding principle in Federal law: Federal employees must be paid equal pay for equal work.  And that’s a standard that we are committed to reaching across the federal government.

As the Director of the Office of Personnel Management I will continue to strive to make the Federal government a model for ensuring that all people, no matter their gender, are paid equally and fairly for the work they do.


HR University (HRU) reached a milestone today with $100 million in cost-savings government-wide. HRU is a prime example of how we are developing a first-class Federal workforce that is well-prepared, well-trained and has the right skills.

 With tight budgets, HRU is a creative way to offer quality training to our employees that is affordable and that meets our goals.

The Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council launched HRU in February 2011 as the Government’s one stop shop for Federal HR training. Through HRU, we are collaborating across government to share existing resources and address competency and skill gaps within the HR community.

 

HRU is an online platform that hosts courses that are identified as the best HR training across government. Since HRU offers courses and resources that agencies have already developed, it reduces duplication across government and saves precious resources.

I applaud the CHCO Council for its innovative thinking in creating HRU. It’s another way we are working to share not only resources, but best practices. In his 2015 budget proposal, President Obama calls for just such training collaborations.

Just take a look at HRU and you’ll see that it offers courses on a variety of competencies and needs ranging from performance management, to employee benefits, to emergency preparedness. It’s another way that OPM is fulfilling its mission of providing the training Federal workers need to develop and progress in their career paths.

HRU’s is available to all Federal employees at www.HRU.gov. Spread the word. Help us as we continue to build a world-class workforce for the 21st Century.




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