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Championing diversity and inclusion in America’s Federal workforce is critical as we recruit and develop the talent we need to serve the American people. And OPM is working to encourage and help more Native Americans to join the Federal Government. As part of Native American Heritage Month, I was honored to participate yesterday in the White House Tribal Nations Conference to talk about this important topic.

The White House Council on Native American Affairs organized this conference to provide leaders from the 567 Federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact and discuss crucial issues with high-level Federal Government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The annual conference continues the President’s commitment to strengthen government-to-government relationships with Indian Country and to improve the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives, with an emphasis on increasing opportunity for Native youth.

Native Americans make up 1.7 percent of the Federal workforce and 1.2 percent of the Senior Executive Service. However, the majority of Native American employees are employed by two agencies – the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. OPM is determined to help agencies broaden the representation of Native Americans across government and at all levels of service.

One way we are doing that is by directly reaching out to students in Native American communities and get them interested in Federal service. We have strong relationships with Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), and other colleges and universities with a high representation of Native American students. Our recruiting and hiring team works with them to educate students about employment opportunities and careers with the Federal Government.

This year alone we have provided in-person workshops at twelve Tribal Colleges and Universities on how to find and apply for our Pathways programs for interns and recent graduates as well as other hiring programs. We also provided briefings to five universities with high representation of Native American students, including New Mexico State University, Portland State University, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and California State University, Sacramento. And OPM regularly partners with the Society of America Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) to provide internship opportunities throughout government.

As part of the President’s Management Agenda, we are also helping agencies better use data and partnerships to drive their recruitment strategies. This support will allow agencies to provide opportunities for mentorship and leadership development for under-represented groups. OPM is also working with agencies to ensure that they implement their agency-specific Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plans, which will include addressing under representation of Native Americans where it exists.

These and many more efforts are underway here at OPM and across the Federal Government to make sure that we are drawing from communities all across the country when we recruit the best to serve the American people.

Joining the White House Tribal Nations Conference was one way for me to commemorate Native American Heritage Month. It is my hope that the continued efforts of the President and agencies government-wide will not only increase the representation of Native Americans, but also broaden their leadership and the value that we put on what these Americans bring to the table.


Photo of Acting Director Colbert along with colleagues in a forum during THE WHITE HOUSE TRIBAL NATIONS CONFERENCE.

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