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Until October 15, we are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Latino community has given us so many traditions, so much culture and history, and also countless achievements, particularly when it comes to serving our great country. As the first Latina Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I see it as my mission to continue this tradition of service and to carry on a proud legacy.

So for me, Hispanic Heritage Month is about honoring the Latino government leaders who have come before me. I stand on the shoulders of the first Latino Cabinet member, Laura Cavazos and Antonia Cello Novella, the first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General (and the first woman to hold that position). I also have the honor of standing on the shoulders of my friends and mentors, including Federico Pena, who was Secretary of two departments – Transportation and Energy; of Henry Cisneros, the first Latino HUD Secretary, of Ken Salazar who led the Interior Department and of Bill Richardson, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy. And of course, I am lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head the Department of Labor and my boss when I served as her chief of staff.

These fine leaders made it possible for me to lead OPM, for Secretary Perez to be leading the Department of Labor, for Secretary Castro to be heading HUD, and for Maria Contreras-Sweet to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

What once we thought was the impossible is now the routine. There is never going to be a time in Federal leadership when Latinos are not going to be represented.
But we need to work to not only continue this progress, but also to make sure Latinos, and people from every underrepresented community, are present at every decision-making table. It is crucial that we have diversity at every level of Federal service.

As OPM Director, this is one of my most important goals. And one of the best ways to ensure that the Federal workforce better reflects the people it serves is for us to transform the way the government recruits and attracts the next generation of Federal employees.

To better attract Latinos to government, I’ve been working with OPM’s Hispanic Council on Federal Employment. The council is focusing on two areas, the Senior Executive Service and recruitment, especially at colleges and universities.

I have been to 11 colleges and universities around the country, including seven Hispanic- serving Institutions. We are working with these colleges and universities to help them match their curriculums to the needs of our 21st Century Federal workforce.

OPM is also enhancing the tools we are using to attract a diverse Federal workforce, particularly when it comes to Millennials. I know that Latinos, especially the young, are heavy users of social media. So we are going to them on the platforms they use instead of waiting for them to come to us. We’re also putting job descriptions in plain language and using humor and graphics to make sure the outreach is friendly, appropriate, and well received.

We still have a lot to do and we’re working our hardest to ensure that every community is represented in government. So, as we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s honor together the accomplishments of those who have paved the way for the Latino community. And let’s make sure to pay it forward by working to ensure we recruit the next generation of Latino leaders for the Federal government.
 

 

 


As we launch the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign, I’m excited to let you know about a new feature this year that will make it possible for all Federal employees to give to the causes and charities you care about, regardless of where these organizations are located.

Year after year, Federal employees have been incredibly generous in giving to the CFC. Since the first campaign was conducted in 1964, Federal employees have contributed more than $7 billion to the charities of their choice.  Last year alone, more than 800,000 Federal employees donated about $209 million. This force for good has made a real impact on so many lives.  

This year marks the launch of “universal giving” in the CFC.  This means that you are no longer limited to donating to the charities listed on your local CFC Charity List.   You can now choose from more than 24,000 participating charities throughout the United States and overseas. Each of these organizations has been vetted by Federal employees, so you can be confident that they meet the CFC eligibility requirements and public accountability standards.  

The CFC has simplified things by adding an online search function to its website. You can search using a charity’s five-digit CFC code, its name, keywords, taxonomy code, or all of the these elements. You can even limit the administrative and fundraising rates of the charities you view.  

I am particularly excited about Universal Giving because it will allow me the opportunity to support charities in my hometown in Colorado that have assisted my family and neighbors over the years. 

This addition will also allow military service members and civilian employees whose jobs take them overseas or to various stations around the country to donate to their hometown CFC charities or to any CFC cause in the nation that they choose. 

Please take a moment to search for your favorite charities or the causes you care about.  I hope that as you have in the past, you will consider joining me and our colleagues in supporting the nonprofit community through the CFC, the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign. You CAN make a difference!


I’m happy to report that today OPM issued a regulation that gives us another way to honor our fallen Federal employees by providing their loved ones with an American flag to pay tribute to their service and to their ultimate sacrifice.

I know that many agencies and Federal employees have supported the creation of the Flag Recognition Benefit for Fallen Federal Civilian Employees, which provides this tangible symbol of our appreciation and respect for their loved one’s service and dedication.

Thursday is a National Day of Service and Remembrance. We will pause to recall the sacrifices of the Americans we lost on September 11, 2001. I hope we also take a moment to honor the sacrifices of the members of our Federal family who gave their lives on that tragic day. And we must remember that Federal employees throughout the nation and the world have lost their lives while serving the American public.

I encourage loved ones who would like to receive a flag to contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the employee worked. The benefit applies only to employees who died on or after December 20, 2011, when the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 took effect. The law authorizes an agency to provide only a single flag on behalf of a deceased Federal civilian employee as a way to express the nation’s deepest sympathy and gratitude.

The final regulations describe the eligibility requirements and explain the procedures for requesting a flag. OPM has also prepared a guidance document that will be sent to agencies immediately.

So I hope all Federal employees will review the details of this benefit. If you know of a loved one who bravely served for our country and has passed away, please contact the personnel office of the Federal agency where the deceased Federal employee worked.

And as always, thank you to all of our Federal employees for the work you do for the American people each and every day.

Image of The American Flag with Text overlay that says 'Announcing the Flag Recognition Benefit for Fallen Federal Employees' 


Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? Over the next several weeks, the nation will join together to learn the best ways to prepare for disasters and emergencies, particularly those close to home.

This year’s theme, “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare,” reminds us that we need to do more than just learn how to be prepared.  We all need to act now to make emergency plans, talk to family and friends, and get the supplies and equipment we need to be prepared.

Here in Washington, D.C., we are used to preparing for snow and ice storms that sometimes shut down the capital city during the unpredictable winter months. But as the derecho storm, Hurricane Sandy, in 2012 and the earthquake in 2011 taught us, we never know when an emergency will hit. And no matter what time of year it is, or what part of the country you are in, it is important to prepare at work, at home, and in your communities.

Maybe that means having a conversation with your family about making sure you have a central place to meet, or talking to your co-workers about workplace evacuation, it’s crucial to think ahead so that you can react immediately when a real emergency occurs.

Throughout September, the website Ready.gov and Federal agencies across government will be sharing resources, tips, and tools. Agencies are also being asked to educate and prepare employees for emergencies, both throughout this month and on the National Preparathon! Day of Action on September 30.

OPM is a national partner in the National Prepareathon! and we are excited to do all we can to spread the word about what to do during disasters. Here at OPM, we’ll be hosting an awareness series for our employees specifically focused on earthquake preparedness. As we found out in 2011, while earthquakes may be rare in our area, it is important for everyone to know what to what to do in the moment to stay safe.

I hope you will join us. Take this month to talk to your families and your co-workers. Make plans, ask questions, and seek out the resources you need. Join in the conversation on social media using hashtag #NatlPrep and check out Ready.gov.

There’s no good time for an emergency but it’s always a good time to get prepared for one.

Black bag with yellow writing that says 'Survival Kit'

As we begin this year’s Labor Day celebration, I want to take a minute to thank each and every member of our Federal family for your hard work and for the excellent service you provide the American people. One way for us to honor your efforts is to make sure you have the flexibilities you need to help balance your life at work and at home.

From the moment he took office, President Obama has promoted and supported the kind of flexible benefits that will help us recruit, empower and retain a world class Federal workforce. During the historic White House summit on Working Families on June 23, the President signed a memorandum outlining his vision for such a workplace culture.

OPM recently issued guidance to Federal agencies to make sure that we deliver on the President’s vision.

Workplace flexibilities go beyond the traditional annual leave, sick leave and family and medical leave. Working with their supervisors, Federal employees have the right to request alternative work schedules, job-sharing, telework, part-time work and leave transfer programs.

Our memorandum reminds agencies that they “must not create arbitrary and unnecessary barriers” that would keep employees from asking to take advantage of workplace flexibilities. And I will be asking agencies to report to me about what best practices they are using to create a culture and workplace environment that supports the use of these programs. I also want agencies to report any barriers that may unnecessarily restrict the use of these flexibilities so we can work together to remove obstacles.

The bottom line is, I don’t want Federal employees to worry about retaliation when they seek work schedule flexibilities. And we want to make sure agencies have the procedures and policies in place to create a culture that allows employees to feel comfortable making requests.

We talk a lot here about employee morale and how to best create a workplace where employees feel engaged and appreciated. What better way for us to show our appreciation for the incredible work our 2 million-strong, talented workforce does than to be sensitive to the tug employees often feel between their desire to do their jobs and the need to take care of a family situation or emergency.

What’s more, these flexibilities are not just good for employees. I know that if you believe, when a family emergency comes up, that your manager will bend over backwards to accommodate you, you will go the extra mile when a critical situation arises at work.

We are one Federal family. We need to look out for each other, help each other and trust each other to do the best for the American people we serve.

Enjoy your well-deserved Labor Day holiday!


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