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Our Director Director's Blog

On Wednesday, the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became a showcase for the Office of Personnel Management’s initiative to attract the best talent in science, technology engineering and math to Federal service.

This “Datapalooza” was part of a celebration of the incredible work Federal STEM employees do now, and it was also a look to the future as we work to fulfill the President’s vision of growing a diverse, engaged and talented STEM workforce for the future.

Our team leaders here at OPM have forged an amazing partnership with Federal employees from across government and from the private sector. The idea was to find ways to use OPM’s valuable data to understand our current STEM workforce and to provide the tools and resources managers need to help them attract and recruit new STEM talent.

This work is so exciting and so important. Let me tell you about just a couple of the projects.

Ray Parr, OPM’s data guru in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, developed a heat map that shows where our STEM applicants are coming from. His map showed us that the four states contributing the most applicants for Federal STEM jobs are Maryland, Virginia, California and Texas. And, his team produced an applicant dashboard that provides insights into the interests and experiences of job applicants.

At another demonstration, Gary Lukowski, who manages our Data Analysis Group, enhanced the rich data from OPM’s Fedscope with charts and graphs to illustrate the relationships between STEM employees and their agencies. This kind of information will help hiring managers predict trends in the Federal STEM workforce.

We at OPM know that the Federal government is in competition with the private, non-profit and academic sectors for key STEM personnel. One way that OPM, OMB and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are working together to close skills gaps is to remind agencies about some pay flexibilities that can help attract the best talent.

As we say in the Critical Position Pay Authority Memorandum for Chief Human Capital Officer, the critical position pay authority is a potentially underutilized flexibility that can support our efforts. We are encouraging agencies with mission critical STEM positions to better educate agency staff about this opportunity.

Go to the Pay and Leave Flexibilities for Recruitment and Retention Fact Sheet and the Students, Recent Graduates, and Pathways Fact Sheet for additional information on applying to and recruiting for Federal STEM positions.

This exciting STEM event was just the beginning. I am committed to making sure that together with our partners across government, OPM will continue to innovate and expand the tools and resources we provide agencies so they can bring on board the best talent possible to serve the American people.

Director Arculeta looks at one of the projects on display on a large screen on the wall with data displayed during STEM Day. She is surrounded by a large group of approximately 10 people all facing toward the screen.

As I’ve begun to look at the results of the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, I’m happy to report that there are more than 336,000 people under the age of 33 in our workforce and most of them say they are satisfied with their jobs. They also strongly believe that the work they do is important and that they have real opportunities to improve their skills.

I am not surprised. I have traveled around the country meeting with young Federal workers, veterans and college students. They all have something in common: They are looking for work that is purpose-driven and where they feel they can make a difference. And the new FEVS survey results show many millennials are finding just that in Federal service.

The results have encouraged me to make sure that we at OPM redouble our efforts to attract, develop and retain these talented young people. We are doing that in several ways: OPM is working hard on a new initiative called REDI to Connect. REDI stands for recruitment, engagement, diversity and inclusion.

A key feature of this initiative includes OPM’s work to enhance our Pathways programs, which provide internships to students in school and to recent college graduates. Both the Pathways program and our Presidential Management Fellows program are great ways for millennials to try out Federal service to see if it’s a good fit for them.

As part of REDI, OPM is also expanding the use of social media so that we can reach millennials via the platforms that they use in their job searches. And we’re reaching out to the young users of our main job portal – USAJOBS – to see how we can make is more user-friendly.

I am so gratified to see that our Federal millennials have opportunity with us in government. And I am taking seriously the areas where the data shows we can do better.

Thank you to all in our Federal family who responded to this important survey. Stay tuned for more results in the coming weeks.

Image of thought bubble with cartoon people. Next to it are the words Millennials Finding Opportunity in Federal Service


Today, I am excited to announce that the overall average premium increase for employee health benefits provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will be 3.2 percent for 2015.

The health insurance increase means employees with self-only coverage will pay an average $2.93 more in each bi-weekly pay period. Employees with family coverage can expect an average increase of $6.89 per pay period. The actual premium increases depend on which plans they choose.

These rate increases are proof that OPM continues to provide Federal employees, retirees and their families with the best possible coverage options. The FEHB Program delivers competitive rates and high quality benefits through an efficiently run system. These benefits also help us to attract and retain top talent in the Federal service. In 2015, there will be 257 health plans, with 11 of them available nationwide.

Also, as a result of the President’s Affordable Care Act, the FEHB program covers more than 400,000 young people between the ages of 22 and 26 under their parents’ plans. The ACA has not only expanded coverage for uninsured Americans, it has increased competition and accountability. Those improvements, along with the increased efficiency in the health care system, have resulted in lower cost increases in the FEHB and elsewhere. The FEHB Program offers comprehensive preventive services at no cost, also mandated by the ACA. And many plans provide incentives for participation in wellness activities. 

This fall’s Open Season for health, dental and vision insurance, as well as for the flexible spending accounts, will be from November 10 to December 8. During that time, employees and retirees will have the chance to review their current plans and make any changes they desire for the following year. Eligible employees who are not currently a part of FEHB may also enroll for the first time. I urge all Federal employees to take this time to review their plan choices and decide what is best for their families.

This is also the first time employees will be able to enroll in the flexible spending account program for just a $100 minimum deposit. And for the first time, participants in the health care flexible spending account will be able to carry up to $500 of unused funds into the following year.

More detailed breakdowns of the FEHB Program premium rates and the FEDVIP rates are available at OPM.gov. Employees can also use some handy comparison tools on the site to find the plan that works best for them.

It is so important to me that everyone in our Federal family has the peace of mind to know that they and their loved ones are protected and covered for life’s health emergencies and for the preventive care that helps keeps us all safe and secure. I’m happy to report that once again, your FEHB Program is providing these benefits at a cost that is affordable to our deserving, hard-working Federal workforce.

Info graphic sharing that the average premiums increase for Federal employee health benefits in 2015 is 3.2 percent.


Federal employees are diverse. They represent every nationality, ethnicity, and faith. They reflect the great mosaic of the American people they serve. As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the year, I will be highlighting some of these employees to illustrate just how powerful that diversity can be.

Hilda Reyes is an IT technical advisor at the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas. She began her career as a GS 5 directly out of college and is now in a GS 15 management position.

Like me, Hilda also spends time with high school students, telling them about the careers and opportunities in Federal service that they may not be aware of, specifically in the IT field. She has it right when she says “That’s the state of the future. This is where we need to be going.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

Three Things to Know about Hilda:

  1. She was inspired to become a Federal employee because she grew up in a military family. 
  2. She worked in the Navy reserves for 21 years while also a Federal employee.
  3. She goes out to community centers in low-income areas of Texas and helps Spanish-speaking Americans file their taxes.

Photo of Hispanic Federal employee Hilda Reyes, who is an IT technical advisor at the IRS. 


The much anticipated application period for the Presidential Management Fellows program is about to open. Beginning this Wednesday, October 1, through October 15, students or recent graduates of advanced degree programs can apply to be Presidential management fellows.  The program is open to people who will have received an advanced degree between October 1, 2012 and August 31, 2015.

Created by President Carter by Executive Order in 1977, this prestigious fellowship gives graduates the chance to put their passion for public service into action.  It’s a great way to begin the first steps of your Federal career.

A unique aspect of the program is the STEM track, which gives applicants in a STEM career the opportunity to apply specifically to this program and be considered only for STEM jobs in agencies across government. It allows agencies to find STEM candidates faster and more efficiently. There are many ways to have a STEM career in government. From NASA to the Department of the Interior, more agencies than you may think need people in STEM careers. In fact, more than 300,000 Federal employees are working in the STEM fields.

PMFs are offered nearly 160 hours of classroom-based training, a Senior Executive Service mentor, at least one developmental opportunity at another office or agency, and the potential to convert to permanent employee status when they complete the program. There’s no other opportunity like it.

If you are interested in applying to the program, I highly encourage you to attend our question and answer session via Adobe Connect. On October 8 from 1:30-3:30pm ET, you will hear directly from our PMF staff and have your questions answered. You should also take a look at the PMF Assessment Preparation Guide that will help you prepare for the three-part assessment process that is part of the application.

If you are eligible for the PMF program, I hope you apply. It has given many Federal leaders the start to their careers. From NASA to right here at OPM, being a PMF fellow can take you almost anywhere in government you want to go. Come serve with us. Help us make a difference for the American people. 


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