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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.
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.
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.
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.
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