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As I work to make sure that our Federal workforce looks like the country it serves, I am dedicated to engaging Native Americans, especially Native youth.
This morning, I had the pleasure of meeting with staff and students at Haskell Indian Nations University to talk about what OPM can do to help interest Native youth in Federal service.
HINU, located in Lawrence, Kansas, is one of the largest and most diverse tribal colleges in the country. The university has nearly 1,000 students representing about 140 tribal nations and Alaska native communities.
I was particularly excited to continue my outreach with Native communities as part of the President’s Native Youth Listening Tour. The President is challenging his Cabinet and agency heads to work with Native youth to identify culturally appropriate responses to their communities’ greatest issues. This initiative is called Generation Indigenous -- or Gen I. Through this effort, we want to identify a variety of concrete steps to address the needs of Native communities, including access to the high quality education that can lead to meaningful employment opportunities.
HINU is a fantastic example of what is possible. During my visit, I spoke with members of the Haskell student services team about opportunities for Federal service, including those in the greater Kansas City area. We know that not everyone wants to work in Washington, D.C. In fact, 85 percent of Federal jobs are located outside of the D.C. area.
OPM’s partnership with Haskell represents one way in which we try to match the skills of a diverse workforce with the needs of communities. As part of my new REDI initiative (Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion), OPM is expanding our relationships with colleges and universities, including minority-serving institutions.
REDI, which I introduced earlier this week, is a comprehensive plan to attract and engage the strongest, most diverse Federal workforce possible. In particular, OPM is working to improve USAJOBS and the Pathways program for students and recent graduates. We hope that these improved tools will enable us to connect more effectively with the talented students of HINU, other tribal colleges, and Native communities.
We need the voices of Native youth in today’s Federal service. Last December, I had the honor of participating in a Native youth panel at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. I said then that if we are going to have a successful Federal workforce, it must be one that looks like the America we serve. It’s something I believe in very strongly, and something that the REDI Roadmap is designed to help make a reality.
I want everyone, including Native youth, to have every opportunity to join us in shaping the future of the Federal Government.
I’m excited to share with you today the details of OPM’s comprehensive strategy to help the Federal government attract, develop, and retain a talented, engaged, and diverse workforce. We call this effort our REDI Roadmap – our roadmap to better Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion.
When I started as OPM Director 16 months ago, I knew that to fully understand the needs of our Federal workforce, I needed to get outside of Washington, D.C. So I travelled across the country, visiting with Federal employees, veterans, job applicants, business and community leaders, and students and career counselors. These conversations gave me incredible insights into what our customers want from us and how we can better support our own employees. And those insights helped provide the foundation for the REDI Roadmap.
REDI is a data-driven, forward-looking human capital management strategy that reflects our work on behalf of the People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda. The roadmap will help agencies drive other key presidential initiatives in areas such as diversity and inclusion, closing skills gaps, building the Federal leaders of tomorrow, and fulfilling our commitment to our veterans and people with disabilities. Underlying all of REDI’s initiatives to enhance recruitment and engagement is the importance of diversity and inclusion.
When it comes to recruitment, our roadmap outlines efforts to improve the way the Federal government attracts, recruits, and hires new talent. We also want to help agencies eliminate barriers to recruiting and hiring the diverse talent they need. By making data-driven decisions, we will improve and tackle key areas, including:
Engagement is another key element of REDI. Research in the public and private sectors tells us that the more engaged an employee is, the more productive and effective that worker will be. Research also shows that engagement is tied to service, quality, safety, and retention. The roadmap’s engagement strategy includes:
You can find the entire REDI report and more information at www.opm.gov/REDI. To learn more, as well as to get a preview of some enhancements planned for USAJOBS, watch today’s announcement.
I don’t think that I am very different from other women in looking to my mother as one of the most important influences in my life. She had an especially large influence on how I developed throughout my career because of the example she set, because of how she lived her life. Her guiding principles not only shaped me, they continue to be the compass for my own family and career choices.
My mother had only a fifth-grade education. For her generation, the prevalent attitude was that a woman didn’t need a good education because her main responsibility was to raise a family. But my mother did that with everything she had, including a strong will and a gentle heart. She was incredibly committed to my siblings and to me. We always came first. She taught us the power of family and that no one accomplishes anything alone.
When I was young, my mother showed me how to stand on my own two feet. My brother and I struggled as the only minorities in our school. We faced a lack of understanding and prejudice from our teachers and classmates. My mother helped us learn to stand up to those prejudices and to gather the strength to move past them.
As an adult, my mother taught me the power of resolve. I knew that she had always wanted to continue her education. But she waited patiently until all of her children had grown up and left home, and then she quietly went to work on her GED. She didn’t even tell us what she had been up to until the day her diploma came in the mail. I’ll always remember the smile on my mother’s face as she showed us what she had accomplished.
And that brings me to the most important thing she taught me – the power of saying thank you. She and my father were very grateful for everything they had. They instilled in us that same level of gratitude for each day, good or bad, and for the opportunities we get in life to grow, to share, and to learn. I try to follow that example to this day.
My mother gave me the gifts I needed to become a public school teacher, a civic activist, a Federal government executive, and today, the head of the Office of Personnel Management. I can’t think of a better day than International Women's Day to celebrate my mother’s lasting contributions.
As I reflect on the bravery and commitment of the Americans who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago, I think about how far we have come as a Federal workforce in championing the values of justice, of equality, and of fairness.
The President’s visit to this hallowed spot sends a message to our nation that we must not forget the struggles it took to make it possible for an African American to hold the most powerful position in the free world.
My lifelong passion has been to make sure that people from every corner of our great country have a spot at every decision table. At OPM, we work every day to help agencies across this government fulfill that promise.
Let us never forget the trailblazers who showed us the way.
As we recognize the contributions of African-Americans during Black History Month, I want to take a moment to reflect on two outstanding Federal law enforcement leaders: Omar Perez Aybar and Reginald J. France of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
Omar and Reginald are members of the interagency Miami HEAT Team that won the 2014 Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Service to America medals.
The team conducted hundreds of Medicare fraud investigations in South Florida, which is a ready target for Medicare fraud because of the region’s many retirees. The team members had their work cut out for them. And they knew their work was important, not only because fraudulent claims are inherently bad for the system, but also because each instance of fraud hurts the people who rely on Medicare for life-saving care.
Their investigations were incredibly successful. The HEAT force in Florida used cutting-edge, data-driven investigative techniques combined with a greater focus on interagency collaboration. The team brought together the expertise of the Office of Inspector General, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorneys Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and importantly, local law enforcement. They were able to tap into each other’s resources to create a much more effective single investigative force. Their work led to a record-setting 685 convictions and the return of almost $1 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund.
And, it provided other investigators around the country with a successful model for combating Medicare fraud. Eventually, 12 teams, like the one in Miami led by Omar and Reginald, coordinated criminal investigations that uncovered hundreds of fraudulent Medicare schemes by durable medical equipment suppliers, home health agencies, physicians, and rehabilitation facilities.
I am proud to count Reginald and Omar among the ranks of Federal employees. They are just two of the legions of African American Federal employees we should honor this month and in months to come. Their work is a true personification of the purpose-driven mission of Federal service.
2014 Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal Recipients—The Miami HEAT Teams from Partnership for Public Service on Vimeo.
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