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I was honored to take part in a roundtable discussion with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders while visiting San Francisco this past week. As I mentioned earlier this month, AAPI Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the growing AAPI population in the United States.
As the AAPI Heritage Month theme of #APAEverywhere attests, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders live in every part of our country and work and lead in every industry, including the Federal Government. And we’re better for it.
From the day I was sworn in as Director of the Office of Personnel Management about 18 months ago, one of my top priorities has been to make sure that our Federal workforce draws from the rich diversity of every community we serve.
I want a diverse workforce at every level of government and at every decision-making table. While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent 6 percent of Federal employees, they represent only 3.4 percent of the Senior Executive Service, our top leadership corps. That’s up from 2.4 percent in 2008. But we must and we can do better.
One way we are already strengthening our AAPI leadership is through the Asian American Government Employee Network’s (AAGEN) SES leadership development program. A pipeline of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders is emerging from this mentorship and networking program. Today’s roundtable and gatherings like it help us to continue to spread the word about the opportunities in Federal service.
In order to attract an increasingly diverse, innovative, and multi-skilled workforce, I need to hear from people active in every community in America. I learn so much from the roundtables and other events I participate in. In turn, I share with those I meet the ways that America’s workforce can play a role in addressing the issues they care most about. And, I might just interest a few people in Federal service who may have never considered a Federal job. As word continues to spread about our commitment to the AAPI community, I hope that more individuals will consider Federal service.
During my visit to the West Coast this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the attendees of OPM’s Federal Internships and Career Expo in Seattle. This event was the first of its kind. I’m thrilled that OPM was able to co-host the expo with the Federal Executive Board and the University of Washington.
This day-long workshop was designed to showcase our Pathways program, which actually includes three programs: internships, jobs for recent graduates, and the Presidential Management Fellows. These employment tracks give young people an opportunity to try out Federal service. For many, Pathways leads to a permanent place in our workforce.
The expo included panels, presentations, and roundtable discussions as well as instructional sessions, such as how to write a Federal resume. We brought together Federal officials from 20 agencies and staff from more than a dozen colleges and universities. More than 100 students attended. We hope to partner with other Federal Executive Boards around the country to host similar events.
The Federal hiring process can seem complex. One of my priorities is to make sure that everyone who is interested in working for the Federal Government knows what their options are and gets the help they need to successfully apply for Federal positions.
Agencies are always looking for top talent, and Pathways is one way that we can bring passionate students and recent graduates, with fresh ideas and perspectives, into government.
And we’ve heard a great deal of positive feedback from our agencies about these programs. Every agency has a Pathways success story to share. Here at OPM, one of our recruiters for Pathways began as a Pathways intern.
A key aspect of my Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion – or REDI – Roadmap is building a world-class Federal workforce. Programs like Pathways help our hiring managers identify the best and brightest in our nation – and they show our newest hires what being a member of the Federal civil service is all about.
Being a Federal employee is about being a part of something bigger than you. It’s about working on behalf of our nation, and everyone in it. For me, as Director of OPM, this means striving to build a workforce that looks like the America we serve. Pathways can help us achieve that goal.
Real change in the workplace comes from the bottom up. Each employee has important feedback to give and now is the time for your voice to be heard.
The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey provides senior leaders and managers with data that shows what works well and what needs to be improved within each agency.
I know some Federal employees aren’t really sure why they should take the survey. Here are four things you should know about why it’s important to participate.
1. Your voice is important. The FEVS asks for your opinion on a wide range of topics, such as training, job satisfaction, performance appraisals, work-life programs, and management. Agencies use this valuable information to improve their organizations.
2. Your responses are confidential. Individual FEVS responses cannot be linked back to you. No one – not even your supervisor – will know how you answered. The reason we insist on confidentiality is, we need your candid and unfiltered feedback.
3. Your participation matters. The FEVS is sent to a sample of employees, so not every Federal worker gets a survey every year. If you received one this year, your participation is important and will serve as a crucial voice for employees like you. If you’re not sure if you received an invitation, look for an email from OPM.
4. You will have an impact. Leaders across the government pay close attention to FEVS scores. Thanks to new tools from OPM, including an online tool called Unlocktalent.gov, agency leaders can use the results in new and significant ways. With Unlocktalent.gov, they can slice and dice the data in ways that give them insights at every level of the agency, even individual offices.
I know you work hard to get the job done each and every day. You’re the expert in understanding what it’s like to work for your agency. So, tell us what’s working and what’s not. The survey is open until early June. Your responses will help us continue to build a world-class workforce that serves the needs of the American people.
As one of my favorite weeks of the year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on how we honored our incredible Federal employees through Public Service Recognition Week. One of my goals as OPM Director is to make sure we recognize our Federal workforce each and every day. But it is especially important to set aside a week each year to thank our public servants for their dedication to the American people.
Every PSRW is unique and special, and this year was no exception. The week began with a Presidential Proclamation announcing the observance of PSRW. In his proclamation, the President reminds us that, “Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many. It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward. There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference.”
To acknowledge this opportunity, we launched the #HonorTheOath campaign. This collaboration with a group of Excellence in Government fellows invites Federal employees to reflect on the oath that they take on their first day on the job. I encourage you to visit opm.gov/oath to see how employees honor the oath of office each day through serving the American people.
Across the Federal Government, agencies took the time to thank and recognize their employees. Here at OPM, we had a fantastic week of celebrations. We cheered at the Washington Nationals “Salute to Public Service” game, focused on health and wellness with a nutrition seminar and fitness walk to the Washington monument, highlighted employee resources at an information fair, and hosted a mentoring roundtable. We also used social media to honor our Federal family, including Federal retirees, veterans who have
transitioned to civil service, and Federal employees who have fallen
while serving the American people.
I was especially delighted to present our OPM Director’s Awards at a special town hall. More than 600 employees were singled-out by their peers. Our winners remind me of how privileged I am to work with so many talented and passionate individuals.
Employee engagement is one of the foundations of the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – strategy that guides our work at OPM. Through events like PSRW, I want to make sure that our Federal workforce knows that their voices are heard and that their experiences matter. Each employee has an important role to play, and I embrace the challenge of helping workers rise to every opportunity.
One week is simply not enough time to fully celebrate the passion that Federal employees bring to their jobs, or the impact that they have on the lives of every American. I hope that PSRW is just the start of an ongoing conversation about the vital contributions of each member of America’s workforce.
Federal service is public service. That’s easy to forget sometimes because so much of what Federal employees do goes on behind the scenes. But America’s workforce affects every American every day.
Each day, all across this country, many Americans are fortunate to wake up in a society where they have clean water to drink, safe food to eat, beautiful parks, affordable and quality health care, and a growing economy.
Providing these and countless other services to the American people requires a Federal workforce that is talented, well-trained, and engaged in the workplace, is led by executives who inspire and motivate, and draws from the rich diversity of the people it serves.
The President is committed to supporting the model Federal workforce. In his proclamation on Public Service Recognition Week, the President said:
“In the face of difficult challenges, public servants give new life to the values that bind our Nation together. Civil servants are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home. And despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration, and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it.
With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active duty service members, our Federal workforce represents extraordinary possibility. Our Government can and must be a force for good, and together, we can make sure our democracy works for all Americans. We know there are some things we do better when we join in common purpose, and with hard work and a commitment worthy of our Nation's potential, we can keep our country safe, guarantee basic security, and ensure everyone has a shot at success.“
We could not agree more. Federal service attracts people who are passionate about what they do. The mission of their agencies and their commitment to serving the American people are what drives them. And they come from – and work in – every corner of the country, reflecting the rich diversity and talent of this great country.
From the recent college graduate to the mid-career professional to the soon-to-be retiree, our employees are here to make a difference and to serve their country.
As we kick off Public Service Recognition Week, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on how America’s Federal workforce makes your life better each and every day. And we hope you’ll join the President in recognizing the hard work and dedication of our nation’s public servants. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.
Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
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