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Be prepared. That may sound like an overused slogan. But as OPM Director, it is my job to make sure that our Federal workforce is fully prepared to continue to serve the American people even during an emergency, whether it’s a man-made or a natural disaster.
That’s why I’m excited that OPM is once again a partner in America’s PrepareAthon National Day of Action. This campaign is designed to increase awareness among Americans about the need to be prepared for all emergencies.
On April 30, communities, organizations, families, and individuals were encouraged to take steps to prepare for potential disasters. Some examples were conducting a drill, updating supplies, facilitating a group discussion, and holding a group exercise. Awareness, conversation, and planning are the vital first steps in creating environments that can respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.
One of the reasons we have the Day of Action is to recognize that risks are not the same in all locations. Some areas are prone to earthquakes, while others are more likely to experience a tornado. Knowing what hazards are most likely – and more importantly, how to prepare for them – is at the heart of the PrepareAthon. I encourage you to consider the emergencies that you might face in your own communities.
OPM participated in the PrepareAthon by holding a shelter-in-place drill. During this drill, OPM employees practiced getting away from windows and other areas that would be unsafe in the event of a tornado, high winds, or extreme rain or snow. We want our workers to know the best ways to deal with these extreme situations. As for me, I met with my senior leadership and OPM’s preparedness team to review and discuss the actions we would need to take during an emergency to make sure our employees stayed safe and to ensure the agency would continue to function as needed.
I encourage everyone to review the resources on the PrepareAthon website. Ask your employer about the emergency plan for your agency. Talk to your families about your personal plans, too. We can face emergency situations with quick action and calm if we plan ahead. I believe it is important to take every step we can to make sure that we keep our employees and their families safe.
I celebrated Earth Day last week by talking about my love for our national parks. Here at OPM, we know how vital it is to protect our environment each and every day. So I am proud to share that the Environmental Protection Agency has chosen the Office of Personnel Management as a recipient of a Federal Green Challenge Award for our dramatic reduction of water consumption at OPM headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In just one year, we reduced our water consumption by 38 percent at the Theodore Roosevelt Building. Many thanks to our mindful occupants and facilities staff for overseeing the installation of efficient water fixtures, replacing indoor plants with ones that do not require watering, working with our water utility company to ensure accurate meter readings, and establishing Best Management Practices for Water Efficiencies.
Government-wide, more than 400 facilities, representing 1.3 million employees, participated in the Federal Green Challenge in 2014. Together, we diverted waste from landfills, cut back on our use of natural gas, and recycled electronics. We decreased our use of fossil fuels and saved millions of miles in transportation emissions. In 2013, Federal employees not only took steps to preserve our natural resources, they collectively saved U.S. taxpayers more than $24 million.
The President has a strong commitment to protecting the environment, which includes his global leadership on climate change and clean energy initiatives. This award reminds me that the Federal workforce can have a real impact in supporting the administration in celebrating and caring for the environment.
As the celebration of Public Service Recognition Week quickly approaches, I’d like to tell you about an exciting opportunity for you to connect with fellow Federal employees that could possibly land you a spot next to me on the field at Nationals Park!
Starting this week, OPM, in collaboration with Excellence in Government fellows from the Partnership for Public Service, is inviting Federal employees to record and submit 30-to-60 second videos that answer the question, “How do you honor the oath of office each day?”
Despite our differing roles across government, we are all connected by our oath of office. On our first day as Federal employees, we did more than start a new job. We responded to the call to serve the American people. From scientists addressing global energy challenges to doctors serving America’s veterans to inspectors keeping our food safe, we share the oath we took to support and defend the Constitution of this great country.
And as Federal employees who work hard each and every day to serve the American people, we live and honor that oath. The #HonorTheOath campaign is your opportunity to tell us why you chose a career in public service, what the oath of office means to you, and what you do each day to honor that oath.
And the best part is, I’m going to invite five Federal employees, whose #HonorTheOath videos best represent the spirit of Public Service Recognition Week, to join me on the field as I throw out the opening pitch for the Washington Nationals “Salute to Public Service” game next Monday, May 4.
So get your cameras rolling and tell me, how do you #HonorTheOath? Submit your video today at opm.gov/oath. The deadline for participating in the video challenge is 12:00 noon ET on Friday, May 1.
A quick note: The invited Federal employees will be responsible for their transportation to the ballpark and for getting tickets to the game.
Some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders can be found in our great nation. From the majestic Niagara Falls in New York to the Florida Everglades to the stunning glaciers of Alaska, our country is full of natural treasures.
As a Colorado native, one of my favorite outdoor escapes—that can only be described as a work of art—is Rocky Mountain National Park. With its vast hiking trails, a wide array of wildlife, fields of flowers, and crystal blue skies, it is the perfect place to bask in Mother Nature. Standing along the edge of Trail Ridge Road makes you feel like you're on top of the world! Even as I reminisce about its spectacular views, I feel a sense of serenity.
I don’t want Rocky Mountain National Park to be a memory. I want future generations to enjoy and explore its beauty, as I have.
This planet is our home—where we live, work, and play. And its health affects our families, our communities, our economies, our security, and our future.
That’s why the President is taking action to tackle climate change. And it’s why he’s asking all of us to take part. So go to Whitehouse.gov and post something about your favorite natural treasure.
It’s our time to lead. Happy Earth Day 2015!
We know from OPM’s research that Federal employees are well educated and many hold multiple college and university degrees. They love to learn and often don’t consider their educations complete just because they work for the Federal Government. That is why I am excited to announce a new educational partnership for our workforce.
Beginning this summer, an OPM partnership with Champlain College will help Federal employees, their spouses, and legal adult family members pursue online post-secondary education in such high demand fields as business, health care, and technology.
We know programs like this one work. One year ago, we initiated a partnership with University of Maryland University College. UMUC’s results are encouraging. More than 1,200 Federal employees enrolled in UMUC programs, including nearly 100 spouses and dependents. Together, they have saved nearly $765,000 in tuition. And we know that Federal employees across the country are taking interest. UMUC enrolled students from 42 states and the District of Columbia and from more than 100 Federal agencies.
Our work with UMUC and our new partnership with Champlain College are win-wins. The additional knowledge and skills that Federal workers get through these courses will help them advance their careers while also making them more engaged on the job and more skillful in fulfilling their agencies’ missions.
Champlain College will give up to a 70 percent discount on the courses. The amount of the discount will vary depending on the exact nature of, and the number of, courses they choose to take. In addition to the discount, Federal employees will be able to apply for financial aid and perhaps accrue little or no debt.
Our collaboration with Champlain College will increase all Federal employees’ access to high-quality and affordable educational resources. Champlain’s online courses will allow Federal employees to enroll no matter where they live, and to complete certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in such fields as cyber security, digital forensics, health care administration, and human resources management.
Employees can immediately begin submitting their applications for the summer term.
Lifelong learning is a staple of today’s Federal workforce, and our alliance with Champlain College pushes us further along that path. I am incredibly proud of the work Federal employees do each and every day, and the time and energy they invest in their jobs. Through our partnership with Champlain, we will help solidify the foundation of that investment. And stay tuned; there are even more opportunities like this to come.
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