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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.

Theodore Roosevelt Building in background with green shrubs and flowers in foreground.

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!

Photo of Rocky Mountain National Park. Mountains in the background with a golden sunset. Pond is in the forefront of the photo with a reflection of the mountains and sunset.

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.

Chalkboard that says 'Discounted tuition for Federal employees and their families thanks to a new education alliance with Champlain College.'

In his memorandum for modernizing Federal leave, the President wrote, “Men and women both need time to care for their families and should have access to workplace flexibilities that help them succeed at work and at home.  Offering family leave and other workplace flexibilities to parents can help achieve the goals of recruiting and retaining talent, lowering costly worker turnover, increasing employee engagement, boosting employee morale, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

This week, as President Obama continues his conversations with working families across the country, OPM is proud to release a new online handbook that gives Federal employees the information they need to take advantage of the government’s many leave policies related to having a baby, adopting, or becoming foster parents.

Our Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care provides scenarios and tips to give employees realistic and specific examples about how these policies can and should be applied. It was developed with the help of representatives from more than 40 Federal agencies, and it is an important milestone in achieving the President’s vision for Federal working families.

Federal employees will be familiar with many of our leave policies. New mothers and fathers may take at least six to eight weeks of sick leave, followed by additional time to bond with their child through annual leave or the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA guarantees that Federal employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a year of the birth or adoption of a child so that new parents can have extra time with their families. I’m also proud that our government recognizes the same needs for adoptive parents, foster families, and same-sex couples.  

Our handbook also provides information about less well-known options. For example, employees can use FMLA intermittently – say, one day a week for 12 months – rather than using 12 weeks all at once. Some offices are able to offer adjusted work schedules, with flexible start and end times. For families who need some extra time at home, the perfect solution may be to switch to a part-time schedule.

The handbook shares explanations of all of these types of workplace flexibilities, and more. It has definitions and details about each type of leave, and it also has specific examples of how a Federal worker might combine different types of leave in a way that makes the most sense for his or her family. Our goal is to make our policies and regulations are as clear -- and flexible -- as possible for every employee and his or her supervisor.

To attract and retain a talented, engaged, and productive workforce, the Federal Government must ensure that employees are provided every opportunity to use workplace flexibilities that will enable them to thrive both at work and at home. We hope that this handbook will help move us toward our goal of fully supporting and empowering working parents in their roles both as Federal employees and parents.

Logo for Workplace Flexibilities Handbook for Working Families


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