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OPM soon will be releasing the government-wide results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), and I am happy to report that we are seeing some positive trends in the numbers this year, although we still have more work to do. Participation in the survey was up – the response rate was 50 percent, up from 47 percent in 2014 – and employee engagement index scores improved at most agencies. The Administration’s focus on engagement is having an impact, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results in more detail soon. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about why employee engagement is so important, and to share a success story from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the Federal Government. An agency that engages its employees ensures a work environment where each employee can reach his or her potential, which in turn has a strong impact on the agency’s ability to achieve its mission goals. Individual agency performance contributes to success for the entire Federal Government, which means better service for the American people.

Engagement occurs in every office between employees and their supervisors and should be a focus at all levels of an agency, from front-line employees to the leadership. The People and Culture plank of the President’s Management Agenda was created, in part, to shine a light on engagement and to support agencies’ efforts to strengthen an organizational culture of employee engagement and mission performance.

This past year, each agency was asked to appoint a senior accountable official responsible for improving employee engagement. Agencies then worked closely with OPM’s FEVS team to analyze and interpret their reports. Each agency received detailed, customized reports with data broken down by department, program, and office, with the goal of enabling agencies to examine internal engagement at the “local level”.

The experience of HUD shows just how powerful a tool the FEVS can be. This past year, HUD increased its engagement score by 5 percentage points. It also increased its global satisfaction score by 6 percentage points. This impressive growth came about as a result of the agency’s commitment to increasing internal engagement.

In sharing their story with OPM, HUD officials credited several efforts with making the difference. They created new collaboration tools, and repurposed some existing ones, for employees to share ideas with their leaders. One such tool is HUDConnect, an internal social media platform that gives employees the opportunity to reach out to leaders and each other. They can recommend process improvements or new technologies. The agency also implemented regular emails to the workforce and quarterly town hall meetings as ways to open lines of communication.

Every employee was provided the FEVS scores for the agency as well as analyses of the data. HUD encouraged senior leaders to use – a dashboard OPM created last year that puts each agency’s survey data into visual formats and helps leaders to better understand what the numbers mean.

Importantly, at HUD, change came from the top. Secretary Julián Castro made engaging employees a priority – and he made sure employees knew their feedback would be taken seriously. He and Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti challenged the department to increase participation in the survey from 51 percent to 75 percent, and it ultimately achieved a 74 percent response rate. Coloretti placed a strong emphasis on responding to employees’ requests through internal tools like HUDConnect and Switchboard, two ways to directly solicit employee feedback. She conducted deep-dive conversations with program offices to create a set of initiatives to build a stronger HUD. These initiatives were shared with employees agency-wide and voted on; from this feedback, there are several projects happening now that are expected to improve HUD’s processes and systems and to strengthen its staff.

These strategies are backed up by our experience with Federal agencies collectively.  Leadership involvement, improving internal communications, and enabling employees to have more input into how their organization functions are proven approaches to boosting employee engagement and performance.

I congratulate everyone at HUD for their commitment to employee engagement, for maximizing the value of FEVS as a tool to drive change, and for embracing evidence-based strategies in order to achieve progress. Well done.

There are many other agency success stories in this year’s FEVS results, and I look forward to sharing more of them soon on the OPM blog.

2015 FEVS   This is the first in a series of infographics highlighting results from the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).   The infographic positions the FEVS as a powerful tool for agencies and introduces the metaphor of a classic wrench.   Title:  Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey HUD shows how powerful a tool the FEVS can be.   TABLE 2014 and 2015 FEVS scores for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for three indices: Response Rate, Global Satisfaction, and Engagement Index.   HUD's FEVS Response Rate in 2014 was 51% compared to 74% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Global Satisfaction score in 2014 was 51% compared to 57% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Engagement Index score in 2014 was 57% compared to 62% in 2015.    Bottom half of infographic is a visual of interconnected gears titled

Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C. this week is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors to the city and create traffic congestion across the region. Depending on where your office is located, this could have a significant impact on your commute.

While the Federal Government will remain open during the pope’s visit – Tuesday evening through Thursday – OPM has strongly encouraged agencies to allow employees to use any workplace flexibilities available to them, especially telework. In the D.C. area, 70 percent of Federal employees are eligible to telework and those who take advantage of that option this week will be helping to alleviate congestion and ensure public safety while remaining fully productive, despite the logistical challenges associated with the pope’s visit.

If you do not yet have a plan in place for telework or using other flexibility options, talk with your supervisor. Additionally, if you are on an alternative work schedule, consider whether you can move your day off to give yourself flexibility during the visit. There are a number of options, and we encourage supervisors to be as flexible as possible.

Decreasing the number of commuters into and leaving the city this week will help alleviate traffic congestion and stress on public transportation. If you are required to commute to the city during this time, be sure to allow plenty of extra time. If you are driving, check the street closures ahead of time, and if you are using public transportation, keep an eye out for alerts and changes in schedules from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority.

And, as always, watch local news outlets for additional changes and alerts. You can get up-to-date information on the papal visit and the areas of the city that will be affected at

Brenda Roberts is the Deputy Associate Director for Pay and Leave at the Office of Personnel Management. 

OPM strongly encourages agencies to allow employees to telework to keep the government operating while helping to minimize traffic congestion and support law enforcement efforts during this event. 

Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off this week, with the theme, Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity. As a workforce, we are better when we draw from all segments of society. Hispanics are an integral part of America’s culture and heritage, and this year’s theme encourages us to explore and celebrate that legacy.

A diverse Federal workforce helps us better serve all Americans. That is why I am proud of OPM’s leadership on the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment, which met earlier this summer and will meet again at the end of this month. The Council and OPM have worked together to develop strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Its members have advised OPM on approaches that avoid unnecessary barriers to Federal employment, both at the entry level and at the executive level. The members of the Council were also instrumental in helping OPM develop its REDI Roadmap by sharing their knowledge of diverse communities and Hispanic millennials. And many of the organizations that sit on the Council have provided leadership training to Federal employees to help the government develop a pipeline of talent.

In my time on the Council, I plan to continue this great work. There is more to be done, but we have made progress that we can build on. Representation of Hispanic Americans in the Federal Government has consistently gone up over the past several years, and it’s also increasing in the Senior Executive Service. At OPM, we intend to continue our recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts and to bolster an inclusive work environment.

Here at OPM, we’ll be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with several workforce events, and agencies across the government will be doing the same. I encourage every Federal employee to take the time to participate and continue our shared commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce.

America's Hispanic community has woven unique threads into the diverse fabric of our country and played an important role in shaping our national character as a people of limitless possibility.

One of the Office of Personnel Management’s key missions is helping agencies untie the “knots” in the hiring process, and our recent partnership with the National Park Service offers a good case study of how we do that.

Each year, all across the nation, the National Park Service hires seasonal employees to support the large number people who visit our national treasures. After a careful review of the service’s seasonal hiring process, the OPM-NPS partnership recently developed a pilot for announcing vacancies that will eliminate the redundancy and inefficiency of multiple job announcements by testing one announcement with multiple locations.

OPM also helped NPS craft more user-friendly job announcements that provide more specific information about individual parks where applicants can envision themselves working.

Just this week, the service celebrated 99 years of caring for our nation’s parks. I’m proud that by fulfilling our mission at OPM, we were able to help the NPS better achieve its mission of preserving our nation’s natural and cultural resources.

This is just one example of the important work that our team at OPM is doing to support hiring excellence across government. I look forward to sharing more examples as additional partnerships mature, and I hope that agencies will continue to take advantage of the comprehensive resources that OPM has available as we deliver on the promise of the President’s Management Agenda for the Federal Government.

Note to readers: Currently, applicants interested in seasonal positions at national parks in the southeast region of the United States can apply here and here.

National Park Service park ranger leads discussion with park visitors.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

One of the many ways that the Office of Personnel Management helps agencies find the top talent they need to serve the American people is through the Presidential Management Fellows, our flagship leadership development program. Last week, we held our annual job fair that gives PMF finalists a chance to connect face-to-face with agency officials.

The PMF Class of 2015 is 600 strong – with 91 of the finalists taking part in our new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) track. More than 65 agencies sent representatives to the event, held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Kicking off the fair on Thursday, I congratulated these impressive finalists for taking the first step in their journey to becoming leaders in the Federal Government.

Not only were our finalists able to meet with agency representatives, they attended informational sessions that gave them a good grounding in the agencies’ missions and goals for the future. The finalists networked and developed contacts at the agencies.

OPM’s talented PMF staff will support these finalists as they continue their search for a fellowship. It’s very rewarding for us at OPM to help agencies recruit talented individuals who share a purpose-driven mission to serve this great country over the course of their professional careers.

The President today issued an executive order designed to further help the Federal Government attract the brightest minds in technology or innovation to work on some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. The order makes permanent the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, which brings executives, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other innovators into government, and teams them up with Federal employees to improve programs that serve more than 150 million Americans. I’m proud to say that OPM had a role in developing this novel program, and I’m happy to see it thrive with our colleagues at the General Services Administration at the helm.

PMF 2015 finalists participate in a job fair at the NIH conference center. 

Feds Feed Families in Full Swing

Federal employees not only serve Americans every day on the job, they display their generosity throughout the year, especially through programs like Feds Feed Families. The 2015 campaign is underway this month, with the theme “Feds Fighting Hunger.” In 2014, Federal employees across government donated nearly 15 million pounds of food, paper goods, and toiletries to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during the summer months, when they traditionally see a decrease in donations.

Each year, employees are asked to bring items they want to donate to their workplaces or to take them directly to a local food bank. I’m confident that the continued generosity of our Federal workforce will ensure that we top last year’s total.

Cybersecurity Update

Working with our partners at the General Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and other agencies, the government on Aug. 4, 2015 issued a request for quotations (RFQ) for a contractor to handle credit monitoring and identity theft services for people affected by the intrusion of our network. We’ve added information about the RFQ to our online cybersecurity resource center

We are continually updating our website as we get requests for more information and as we make progress on the cybersecurity front. I encourage the Federal community to keep checking the site and to continue giving us feedback. We are listening, and are working hard to provide the latest resources, information, and support for the Federal workforce.

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