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As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones, I want to take a moment to thank each and every Federal employee for their hard work and dedication to serving the American people. I also want them to thank them for their continued support of the Combined Federal Campaign.
Each year, Federal employees show their generosity by signing up for a payroll deduction to help fund the thousands of charities that comprise the CFC, which is the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world. In the past 50 years – half a century – the CFC has raised $7 billion.
Behind that $7 billion, are personal stories of people who have been helped by a CFC charity or who are motivated to donate because at some point in their lives they or a loved one were touched by a charitable organization.
Here at OPM, one of our human resource specialists who works at our Boyers, Pennsylvania facility, had leukemia as a child. After going through extensive treatments at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, a charity came forward and put a little joy and magic in her life. She was able to go to Disney World and as a sixth-grader was given the chance to sing the National Anthem at a Pittsburgh Pirates game. To this day, she targets her CFC contribution to the charity that helped her at a pivotal point in her life.
One Department of Defense employee found out last year that her mother had a serious and aggressive illness. Because of the universal giving feature of the CFC, which allows donors to contribute to charities all across the country, this Federal worker was able to give back to a local organization that helped her mother through this difficult time.
I’m sure each one of you has heard similar stories and may well have one of your own that you could share.
The point is, as we are all sitting around the Thanksgiving table this year, I hope we will remember those who may be spending this holiday in need.
For those of you who are Federal employees and have not made a contribution to this year’s CFC campaign, I hope you will take a few minutes and go to www.opm.gov/cfc. This website has information about this year’s campaign, a list of the charities that are part of the CFC, and links to the CFC campaign in your area. Please consider signing up for a payroll deduction. No contribution is too small.
And even if you are not in Federal service, I hope you’ll find a way to support causes you believe in throughout the year.
I wish you all the best this holiday season.
At this critical time as OPM and its government-wide partners work to strengthen the Federal Government’s cybersecurity posture, I’m excited to once again answer the call to public service.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I began my cybersecurity work as an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
After my military career, I continued my IT security work in civilian life, working with some of America’s largest companies and industry leaders in telecommunications, oil field services, tractor, automotive, and aerospace industries. Before accepting Acting Director Cobert’s request that I return to serving the American people, I was a managing partner at SteelPointe Partners, a global management consulting company.
As OPM’s new Senior Cyber and Information Technology Advisor, I am committed to working in collaboration with the talented team at this agency, our partners across government, and our stakeholders to continue efforts to strengthen our cybersecurity posture and provide assistance to those affected by the recent cybersecurity intrusions.
All of us have an important role to play in securing our systems and protecting our information, and I am looking forward to supporting these critical efforts across the Federal Government.
I am eager to help support OPM’s ongoing response to the cybersecurity incidents, complete the development of OPM’s IT infrastructure improvement project, which will help further guard against and mitigate future incidents, and provide recommendations to Acting Director Cobert for further measures we can take. I believe we can best secure the agency’s IT architecture by leveraging the talent and resources of this agency along with those who have been supporting us across the Federal Government and the private sector. We cannot define and provide the best solutions alone.
OPM, in partnership with other organizations such as DHS and the FBI, has identified many positive actions to enhance the security posture of the agency, and several of those have been completed or are near completion.
Two-factor “strong-authentication” for all of our users within the agency was a major effort that is now completed. We have also expanded continuous monitoring of all our systems, and deployed additional advanced network security technologies. These actions have significantly improved our perimeter and internal security controls. I look forward to continuing down this path of progress as we work on additional opportunities to enhance the security and performance of our systems.
I look forward to continuing OPM’s commitment and relentless dedication to protecting its valuable IT systems and information. I appreciate Acting Director Cobert and her team’s confidence in my ability to make a contribution to this important work.
Together, I know we will continue to provide a comprehensive response to the cybersecurity intrusions into OPM’s systems, and continue to develop OPM’s IT infrastructure, thereby serving the needs of OPM’s customers and protecting the safety and security of its data
Clifton Triplett is the Senior Cyber and Information Technology Advisor at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
On November 11, 2015 our nation will pause to honor, remember and show our gratitude to all the veterans who have served this nation with honor, dedication, and distinction.
Throughout this month, as we pay tribute to those who have served and sacrificed, I hope each of us will reflect on their service and sacrifice and will reach out to our nation’s veterans to say thank you.
In 2012, President Obama declared that in recognition of a chapter in our nation’s history that we must never forget, our nation will continue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War until Veterans Day in 2025. Let us, as the President said, pay tribute to “the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor.”
The theme for Veterans Day this year is Honor, Remember, and Gratitude. I recently had the honor of joining Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay in laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management. This solemn, moving ceremony encouraged me to consider the sacrifices our veterans – and their families and loved ones – made, and the impact they have had on our nation.
At OPM, one way we honor our veterans is by continuing our commitment to the President’s Veterans Employment Initiative. As the vice-chair of the Council of Veterans Employment, I plan to continue to lead our effort to recruit, hire, and retain veterans who want to continue their service to their country in civilian life.
Thank you. Thank you to every veteran for your dedication and for your sacrifice. And a special thank you to all of the Federal employees who – after answering the call in the Armed Services – decided to continue to serve America by joining the Federal workforce.
Federal benefits open season is here. Each year we encourage all employees and retirees to review their benefits and make sure that they have plans that work best for them and their families. From today through December 14, employees and retirees can review and update their health, dental, and vision choices. Eligible employees who are not currently enrolled can also select plans for the first time. Retirees not currently enrolled in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) can also select dental and vision plans for the first time during open season.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) covers over 8.2 million employees, retirees, and their families all across this country. For 2016, there will be 252 health plan choices available, with 11 of them available nationwide.
Beginning in 2016, all carriers will offer three enrollment types: Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family. This year is your first opportunity to enroll in Self Plus One, which allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member, such as a spouse or child.
As always, we encourage you to look at all available health, dental, and vision plans and decide which ones best meet the needs of you and your family, as everyone’s needs are different. If you decide that your current coverage still works for you, you don’t have to do anything. Your benefits will remain in place for next year.
If you are eligible to sign up for the FEHB Program, you can also participate in FSAFEDS, the health and dependent care flexible spending account program. These accounts allow employees to set aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible health and dependent care expenses, such as co-pays, prescription costs and childcare.
Two changes were made to Health Care FSAs last year. Employees can enroll with just $100 contribution. Also, participants can re-enroll and carry over up to $500 of unused FSA money into the following year. This means that you won’t have to forfeit money you don’t use by the end of the calendar year.
If you want to participate in FSAFEDS, be sure to sign-up by December 14. When it comes to FSAFEDS, everyone must re-enroll on an annual basis.
Don’t forget, employees and retirees have until December 14 to make their choices. For more information about the Federal benefits open season and to find the right option for you, visit opm.gov/openseason.
John O’Brien is the Director of Healthcare and Insurance for OPM.
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.
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