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As we take time this November to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, I also want us to recognize the outstanding work that Native American Federal employees do each and every day.
This morning, OPM had the honor to host a Native American celebration in partnership with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy. We came together to reflect on the accomplishments of American Indians and Alaska Natives and to rededicate ourselves to making sure that we work hard to broaden the representation of these Americans in agencies across government.
As I opened this morning’s event, I talked about how fortunate I am as Director of OPM to visit with Federal employees across our great country. In the year that I’ve been Director, I have met with students at two tribal colleges as well as with members of SAIGE, the Society of American Indian Government Employees.
I remember that at one SAIGE meeting in Albuquerque, a remarkable public servant really touched me with his definition of public service.
Reed Robinson is a member of the Lakota tribe. As the son of a State Department employee, his family has a tradition of public service. Reed began his career as a National Parks Service intern. He is now Superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, a 1,267-foot tall remnant of an extinct volcano.
Reed is a remarkable manager with a credo about public service that I want to share with you. Reed says that through Federal public service, you can develop a deep understanding of excellence and how to apply it.
For Reed, excellence means more than just doing your job well. It means approaching your job with integrity, humility, resilience, clarity of mission and collaboration. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
We have amazing public servants like Reed throughout our Federal family. Right here at OPM, our longest serving Native American Federal employee is Naite (Tina) Stephens. A program administrator for projects and quality control for our Human Resources Solutions program, Tina has worked for the Federal government for 34 years. She is just one example of the amazing dedication and purpose-driven mission of our talented Federal workforce.
I hope as we all rush through our busy days this November, that we take time to reflect on how lucky we are to be part of a country whose people have such rich history and traditions. And particularly this month, let us pay tribute to and honor the legacy of our First Americans, who as President Obama said in his presidential proclamation “have shaped our country’s character and culture.”
As we take a deep dive into the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, I am proud to see the data proves that our talented workforce is always striving to get better. When some of our innovative analysts in the Office of Planning and Policy Analysis examined education attainment patterns evident in the results, they found that a large proportion of our employees take advantage of additional training and education opportunities in a quest to better serve the American people.
Their findings are summarized in a report, Making the Grade: The Story of an Increasingly Well-Educated Federal Workforce, which is now available on opm.gov.
When looking at the educational progress that Federal employees have made in the past decade, we see that 39 percent have increased their education levels. When looking solely at those who entered Federal service with only a high school degree, we find that a remarkably large share --86 percent--increased their education by earning anything from a certificate in a skill area to a college degree.
The Federal government can help employees advance their education in a number of ways -- from tuition discounts, like the one OPM initiated with the University of Maryland University College this year, to granting CHCOs the authority to help employees pay some of their educational costs. It’s a win-win investment: Employees develop critical skills that the government needs. And, as employees expand their roles and responsibilities, they are more likely to feel vested in their organizations and motivated to continue their service to the American people.
OPM’s analysts found that as employees further their education, their odds of moving into the managerial ranks and increasing their salaries also increase significantly.
Supervisors and employees often work together to make new educational opportunities possible. That’s a special dynamic in our workforce: Employees feel supported to develop their skills and managers know that their agencies will have committed and more highly skilled workers.
We want agencies to have the best tools available to make these collaborations possible. Through HR University, Federal HR professionals and managers have one-stop shopping for tools and resources available government-wide. We are planning to expand upon this successful model of employee training to other government professions with GovU.
So take a few moments to read OPM’s new report on education in the Federal workforce. You never know where your next spark of inspiration will come from!
Today we released the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Government-wide results. The results illustrate a snapshot in time of employee opinions on topics ranging from work environments to job satisfaction. It is one of the most valuable tools that OPM provides to agencies because it helps leaders understand how employees feel about their jobs, their ability to advance, their training opportunities and their sense of empowerment in the workplace.
The survey allows employees to comfortably share their opinions and it makes it possible for agency leadership to make changes based on real data about their employees’ honest and crucial feedback. We’ve seen government-wide how powerful the changes that come from analyzing FEVS results can be. For example, agency leaders can understand telework patterns or gauge the level of supervisors’ commitment to a workforce representative of all segments of society.
Earlier this year, OPM also gave the agencies an interactive dashboard that helps them more easily drill down into their FEVS results. We are working with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations to identify and share best practices from agencies that have achieved long-lasting change.
With this year’s survey, we are highlighting the work of three agencies that have improved their rankings in recent years by making good use of their analyses of the FEVS results: OPM, the Department of Transportation and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
OPM ranked fifth out of 37 agencies on the survey’s Global Satisfaction Index, an indicator of employees’ overall job satisfaction, and sixth on the Employee Engagement Index. We believe the most important element that has contributed to our results is a committed leadership that has made employee engagement a priority. Once the departments at OPM receive their data, managers develop targeted action plans to address their challenges. They may set out to improve information-sharing between work units through newsletters and the agency intranet, for example, or they open the lines of communication through informal “coffee chats.” We’ve discovered just how crucial it is to communicate, share information and create ways for employee to engage. These strategies are working, though we know there are still many ways to improve and we will continue to do so.
The Department of Transportation makes employee engagement a high priority. DOT managers know that better employee engagement means people work harder and smarter. Engagement leads to a connection to their organization and its mission. And the agency has had quite a journey of improvement. In 2008, faced with relatively low scores, DOT managers undertook several efforts, including regularly holding town halls and visiting field offices frequently. They also implemented employee ideas for improving the agency that they received through their online suggestion tool, IdeaHub. Agency leaders wanted employees to know that they valued their feedback. As they’ve implemented these changes, they have made considerable progress. But they are committed to continuing to grow engagement even more.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also made employee engagement a top priority. Managers listened to the issues that mattered most to employees, including better communication, more training and sufficient resources to do their jobs. Internal communication was key, which led to an initiative called “All Invested,” which brought management and staff together to open lines of communication. Agency leaders say they did more to support creativity and innovation, work-life balance, and a diverse workforce. ?
These stories are great examples of what the FEVS can do to help us make the workforce stronger for the American people. But the results show us that there’s more work to do. Over the last few years, Federal employees have endured furloughs, sequestration, a pay freeze, and a government shutdown. Agencies will be able to use the data from the FEVS results to identify areas to promote job training opportunities, avenues for employees to advance up the career ladder, and ways to ensure overall satisfaction in the workplace. With this year’s results, we will continue to do the best work we can to continue to engage and honor the Federal workforce across the world.
The Office of Personnel Management is proud to be part of the President’s effort to get long-term unemployed Americans back to work. As a part of his call to action, OPM this week issued guidance to Federal agencies that explains how we will be working with them to reduce barriers to employment, encourage recruitment and focus on hiring the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have the skills, experience and desire to serve the American people.
Americans who have been unemployed for a long time often have trouble finding a new job. We want to make sure that when they apply for Federal jobs, they are not passed over because of gaps in employment or because of financial circumstances beyond their control, like getting behind in mortgage payments during protracted periods of unemployment. We are also providing agencies with training and updated guidance on complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Act is used when applicants’ credit histories are reviewed as a part of determining whether they are suitable for employment. Also, to clarify Federal hiring policies, we've created a "myth buster"
fact sheet that is available on OPM's new Recruitment Policy Studio.
It is crucial that we ensure that everyone has a fair shot at Federal jobs. As the chief HR officer for the Federal government, I take our responsibility to be a model employer very seriously. We will do everything we can to ensure that Americans who have the talent, the experience, and the desire to serve have an equal opportunity to do so.
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.
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