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Our Director Director's Blog

From Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Jonathan McBride, Director of the Presidential Personnel Office

Through his Management Agenda, President Obama is committed to delivering a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for the American people.

We have had the honor to take a leading role with the “People and Culture” portion of the agenda - a portion we believe is the cornerstone of the agenda. Why? Because an engaged, innovative, and productive Federal workforce is the key to everything we do in service to America. And last week, we released our detailed Agency Priority Goal action plan on how we plan to improve the Federal workforce both for today and for tomorrow.

Within this action plan, we are taking a three-pronged approach to make sure the Federal government successfully unlocks the talent of the workforce we have today and builds the workforce we need for the future. Through these efforts, we believe we will be able to create a culture of excellence and engagement that will foster higher performance; an exemplary Federal management team, starting with the Senior Executive Service; and innovative recruiting tools that allow agencies to attract the best talent from every segment of society.

We’d like to describe for you these important elements of the People and Culture pillar.

Driving Employee Engagement: We need to draw on the varied talent, expertise and experience of our great workforce, and to do that, we need to give our employees some new tools:

  • We will use the valuable responses to our Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) to provide agencies with more than 13,000 individual unit-level reports. FEVS data will start to be available in August, a month earlier than usual. Along with the reports, agencies will have a new interactive dashboard allowing them to mine the data for insights into better engagement strategies and learn best practices for driving specific outcomes from best-in-class managers.
  • With the launch of GovConnect, we are encouraging agencies to let employees step out of their usual roles and responsibilities to collaborate on innovative solutions to longstanding problems.

Building a World-Class Management Team: Starting with the Senior Executive Service, we will position our management team to provide the highest level of leadership within and across Departments and Agencies.

  • We will work with Department and Agencies to implement an improved cross-Government SES onboarding model, developed by the President’s Leadership Workshop and a number of career SES, to help Senior Executives “hit the ground running,” and will commit to and prioritize continual SES development to give them the leadership tools they need throughout their service.
  • OPM will work with Agencies to improve and streamline their processes for recruiting and hiring SES to increase our ability to attract and hire world-class talent from all segments of society.         

Finding the Best Talent: Working with stakeholders, OPM is meeting with agency and department heads and untying the “knots” getting in their way of recruiting the talent they need.

  • We are focusing on improving the quality and diversity of our hires and increasing the involvement of hiring managers to complement the previous emphasis to reduce the time to hire. 
  • We are working with our partners in the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council and with Diversity and Inclusion Directors to find the best recruitment and outreach strategies and to fully utilize existing hiring flexibilities and approaches. And we’ll become a full player in today’s digital employment marketplace by expanding our use of social media.
  • OPM is identifying ways to better use data that tracks hiring needs and applicant flow to drive recruitment strategies and measure success.         

These initiatives of the People and Culture pillar were developed over the past year by some of the most senior officials in government through the President’s Management Council along with staff from all agencies. 

We want to thank our teams at OPM and the Presidential Personnel Office as well as our agency partners, the CHCO council, the President’s Leadership Workshop, and the Office of Management and Budget for what we know will be their tireless efforts to implement this ambitious action plan.  Furthermore, we invite your feedback as we move forward given this will be a living agenda. I know that together, we will make sure that the Federal government is a model for the 21st Century.


It’s no secret that we need more millennials in the Federal government.  Currently only 7% of the workforce is under the age of 30. And this sought-after demographic is a constant topic of the national conversation – their habits, their vices, their skills. But instead of talking about them, I want to talk to them.

So millennials, here’s what I want you to know.

We have a place for you in the Federal government. You tell us you want a job that matters, that you want to work for organizations that make a difference. You want to be in a place that encourages and rewards innovative thinking. You want to be able to develop your skills. And, most of all, you care about public service and believe that government can make a difference.

We know we can’t offer all the perks that the private sector does. We don’t have endless free food, company cars to get you to work or huge signing bonuses. But we can offer you the chance to develop, to lead, and to make a difference in people’s lives.

In the Federal government, you can have the job you dreamed of as a child. You can be a firefighter, an astronaut, or a doctor.  You can help the homeless, care for our veterans, or meet with foreign dignitaries. You can help a budding entrepreneur start a small business, a student be the first in her family to go to college, or an inventor get his first patent. You can do almost anything in the Federal government.

I know you want a better hiring process. We’re working hard to make our job announcements easier to understand. We’re expanding our outreach to job seekers by increasing our use of technology to recruit, especially social media. And we’re launching a new applicant website this summer that will make one-stop shopping possible. It will have resources ranging from how to tailor your resume for a job with government to how to apply to the Pathways Program, all in one place.

I know you may not want to commit for the long term. You want to try new things and grow in a variety of jobs. I admire that and I respect that. So I am asking you to give us a try, to give Federal service a few years. We need your energy. We need your knowledge. We need your innovation.

Try us out. Check out the Pathways and Recent Graduates Programs. Apply to be a Presidential Management Fellow.  Join the Federal family and see if we’re a fit. We have a lot of important work we can do together.

 


I was honored to speak at the White House Summit on Working Families. The conference, co-hosted by the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, brought together business and labor leaders, economists, policy makers, advocates and everyday citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the coming decades.

At the conference, President Obama unveiled his memorandum designed to enhance workplace flexibilities and work-life programs. The President also directed OPM to work with agencies to promote the use of  such programs, ranging from telework to alternative work schedules to leave programs. OPM will be responsible for assessing agency programs, educating employees and their managers, and promoting a culture that encourages and supports these flexibilities.

Director Archuleta (far right) sits on the panel with four other members for Working Families.

I participated in a panel called the Structure of the Workplace. It focused on the importance of having workplace flexibilities and what they mean to employees. Here’s just one example: When employees know that their boss will bend over backwards to accommodate them when a family emergency comes up, then they will be willing to go the extra mile when a critical situation arises at work. The result? Happier and more productive employees. That’s the culture we need.

With the President’s encouragement and through our partnership with the agencies, we will work to remove barriers that exist in fostering that culture. And every Federal employee will be an integral part of making it happen. 


Feds Feed Families has begun! Since 2009, Federal employees have joined together in the summer months to stock food pantries in communities across the country.

OPM founded the Federal food drive program, in response to President Obama’s call for all Americans to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery by serving their communities. The Feds Feed Families program is continuing to provide assistance to families in need under the leadership of the Department of Agriculture.

In its inaugural year, Feds Feed Families collected 1 million pounds of food that went to local food pantries. Each year since, we’ve bested the previous year’s total, and last year we raised an incredible 8.9 million pounds of food and non-perishable items.  Over the past four years, together we have donated 15 million pounds. Despite the challenges we’ve all faced, the Federal family continues to show its generosity and willingness to come together and help those in need.

It’s time to do it again. The summer months are crucial. As need increases, particularly because children are out of school and cannot count on their daily school lunches, donations decrease. Our neighbors need our help.

The inter-agency collaborative effort and volunteer nature of Feds Feed Families means the program runs on a minimal budget. Here at OPM we hold regular events, offer simple recognition to the most generous employee donors and even engage in friendly competition between our offices to keep the food coming in. We’re hoping to best our own internal record of 71,152 pounds of food. I know we can do it.

Let’s continue to fill our community pantries here in DC and around the country. As a Federal family, we have made true and lasting impacts. Together we can do even more. 

Tower of Cans against OPM's Building


On May 30, 2014, President Obama called on Americans from all walks of life to get involved in My Brother’s Keeper by signing a pledge to become long-term mentors to young people. The value of mentorship is clear – sustained and direct mentoring relationships play a vital role in the lives of young people. The President firmly believes that it is important for all children to have caring adults engaged in their lives. Mentoring a young person can make a great difference.

The My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce was established on February 27 when the President issued a Memorandum designed to “Create and Expand Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color.” The taskforce’s 90-Day Report to the President prominently featured the role of mentoring.



As the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I know how incredibly engaged and involved Federal employees are in our communities. From “Feds Feed Families” to the “Combined Federal Campaign,” you demonstrate every day that you are not only the backbone of the Federal government, but also leaders.

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Federal employees at a training program hosted by the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  As I told our colleagues at SAIGE, Federal workers have a noble purpose - the work that you do every day is purpose driven. Unlike private industry, it’s not about the bottom line. It’s about the top line of public service.

As I travel around the country speaking with Federal employees, I am struck by that commitment to service. From Washington, D.C. to Albuquerque, to Brownsville, Tex. to Boyers, Pa., Federal employees show up to work every day and make a difference in the lives of their fellow Americans.

As we approach Father’s Day on Sunday, I urge all of you to once again lead by example and embrace the President’s call to mentor young people. I know that many of you are already mentors in your community. For others, this may be just the motivation you need to get out there and make a difference in a young person’s life.

Please visit the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper website and sign the pledge to be a mentor today!

And Happy Father’s Day!

 

I love getting out of Washington. I’m in Albuquerque, New Mexico this week, where I joined the Society of American Indian Government Employees at its annual training program.

Going to Albuquerque was a bit of a homecoming for me and gave me a chance to talk with Native American Federal employees about my mission to build a 21st Century workforce that looks like America.

For eight years, I had the honor of being a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of American Indian Arts. I also was the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation in Albuquerque. Being an IAIA trustee gave me a deep understanding of the richness of both the history and the culture of the Native American community. It also opened my eyes to the influences Native people have, not just the culture, but the economy of New Mexico and the region.

I told the SAIGE conference that I understand that I cannot successfully recruit from the Native American community without taking into account issues of family and tradition.  As a Latina, I share that appreciation of the importance of family and history. So I asked for their help in sharing their experiences as Federal employees with their friends, neighbors and members of your community.

After the conference, I also met with Governor Paul Torres Sr. of the Isleta Pueblo and went to the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. I talked with the students there about opportunities in Federal service and about our need for young people with the very skills in science, math, engineering and technology that SIPI focuses on.

Visits like these help give me ideas about recruiting strategies, about where best to target my efforts. As the Administration official responsible for bringing new talent to the Federal government, I am committed to developing a workforce that looks like the people it serves.

Currently, Native Americans comprise 1.7 percent of the Federal workforce and 1.1 percent of the Senior Executive Service. Most Native American Federal employees work for the Department of Interior or the Department of Health and Human Services. We must broaden that participation. We need the talents, the passions, and the contributions of the Native American community at every government agency, at every level of leadership, at every decision table.

Director Archuleta speaks with members of SAIGE

Government may not be able to compete with private industry when it comes to money or perks. But where we can compete, and compete nobly, is in making a difference in people’s lives.

Federal employees do that every day. For me, it was attempting to comfort the families of plane crash victims when I was at the Department of Transportation and hearing from low wage workers about how a regulation helped them get a better deal at the workplace while I was at the Department of Labor.  And now at OPM, I can help bring more people into the Federal service.

We need people from every community that makes up America, including Native Americans. I know that if we have a workforce that draws from as many cultural backgrounds as possible, we will be able to best serve the American people.


 
Calling all Federal employees: Have you taken the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey?

The FEVS, which OPM administers, is a powerful management tool that helps your senior leaders and managers drive change at your agency. The data we get from your responses tells us what is working and what we can do better. While taking this survey is voluntary, your responses are crucial to helping us make your workplace the best it can be.



There are a few myths associated with the FEVS. The video above addresses the most common of them. Most importantly, I want to assure you that your responses are kept entirely confidential. Your supervisor will never know how you answered.

Most employees will receive a link inviting them to participate in the survey. But especially in larger agencies, not everyone will. The FEVS is administered to full-time and part-time permanent, non-seasonal employees of departments and large agencies, as well as the small/independent agencies that choose to participate. This year, more than 800,000 employees have been asked to fill out the surveys. So check your inbox. See if there is a link waiting for you.

If you’re not sure if you received an invitation, look for an email from opm.gov. Be sure to only click on your own link, not one forwarded to you by a colleague. They are personalized specifically to you.

I know how hard you work. Despite the challenges we face, we have persevered and continue to get the job done for the American people. That’s why your input is so important. This survey gives you the opportunity to share your opinions, your concerns, and your praise. Tell us what’s working and what’s not. Help your leadership help you. When it comes to understanding what it’s like to work in your agency, you are the expert.

The survey closes this Friday, June 13. Don’t wait. Your response will make the difference.



June is LGBT Pride Month. One of the best ways to celebrate this community is by making sure that its members have the same rights and benefits as the rest of our Federal family.

LGBT Pride Month was created as a way to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which were a tipping point in the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. What began as “Gay Pride Day,” has grown to a month-long series of events around the country. These commemorations also include memorials for members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS.

President Obama has appointed more than 300 openly LGBT professionals to serve in his administration -- more openly LGBT presidential appointees than all previous administrations combined. They include:  John Berry, Ambassador to Australia and formerly Director of OPM; Rufus Gifford, Ambassador to Denmark; Fred P. Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Import-Export Bank of the United States; and Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy at DOL.

The President has also appointed more than a dozen openly gay Federal judges. They include Elaine Kaplan, a judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and a former Acting Director and General Counsel of OPM.

Banner with the text Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month 2014

One of my highest priorities as Director of OPM is ensuring the diversity of our Federal workforce and a workplace where every employee feels respected, safe and valued.

OPM has been at the forefront of ensuring benefits the Federal Government offers are as inclusive as possible. In the past several years, we have adjusted policies so that same-sex domestic partners now qualify for many benefits, from using the Family and Medical Leave Act to take care of a partner’s ill son or daughter to getting help from an agency’s Employee Assistance Programs.

We have also amended the regulations that set the definitions related to family member and immediate relative in order to clarify that they cover same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners. So when an employee with a same-sex partner needs to use sick leave, funeral leave, leave transfer, or the leave bank, he or she has the same benefits as employees with opposite-sex partners.

And following the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, OPM began immediately adjusting policies and regulations to reflect that change. This included extending health care and retirement benefits to employees in same-sex marriages, and clarifying that employees could take FMLA leave to care for same-sex spouses.

OPM will be holding an LGBT Information Webcast on these and many other benefits from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on June 18. Federal employees and benefits managers will get an overview of benefits since the repeal of Section 3 of DOMA and be able to ask questions of our benefit officers.

As the President said in his proclamation declaring June LGBT Pride Month: “We celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”


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