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Public Service

As one of my favorite weeks of the year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on how we honored our incredible Federal employees through Public Service Recognition Week. One of my goals as OPM Director is to make sure we recognize our Federal workforce each and every day. But it is especially important to set aside a week each year to thank our public servants for their dedication to the American people.

Every PSRW is unique and special, and this year was no exception. The week began with a Presidential Proclamation announcing the observance of PSRW. In his proclamation, the President reminds us that, “Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many. It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward. There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference.”

To acknowledge this opportunity, we launched the #HonorTheOath campaign. This collaboration with a group of Excellence in Government fellows invites Federal employees to reflect on the oath that they take on their first day on the job. I encourage you to visit opm.gov/oath to see how employees honor the oath of office each day through serving the American people.

Across the Federal Government, agencies took the time to thank and recognize their employees. Here at OPM, we had a fantastic week of celebrations. We cheered at the Washington Nationals “Salute to Public Service” game, focused on health and wellness with a nutrition seminar and fitness walk to the Washington monument, highlighted employee resources at an information fair, and hosted a mentoring roundtable. We also used social media to honor our Federal family, including Federal retirees, veterans who have transitioned to civil service, and Federal employees who have fallen while serving the American people.

I was especially delighted to present our OPM Director’s Awards at a special town hall. More than 600 employees were singled-out by their peers. Our winners remind me of how privileged I am to work with so many talented and passionate individuals.

Employee engagement is one of the foundations of the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – strategy that guides our work at OPM. Through events like PSRW, I want to make sure that our Federal workforce knows that their voices are heard and that their experiences matter. Each employee has an important role to play, and I embrace the challenge of helping workers rise to every opportunity.

One week is simply not enough time to fully celebrate the passion that Federal employees bring to their jobs, or the impact that they have on the lives of every American. I hope that PSRW is just the start of an ongoing conversation about the vital contributions of each member of America’s workforce.

Director Archuleta with Federal employees on Nationals field

Quote from Barack Obama stating 'I am committed ?to lifting up the outstanding work that is done every day and to fostering an environment where all our employees feel valued, engaged, and included.'

Federal service is public service. That’s easy to forget sometimes because so much of what Federal employees do goes on behind the scenes. But America’s workforce affects every American every day.

Each day, all across this country, many Americans are fortunate to wake up in a society where they have clean water to drink, safe food to eat, beautiful parks, affordable and quality health care, and a growing economy.

Providing these and countless other services to the American people requires a Federal workforce that is talented, well-trained, and engaged in the workplace, is led by executives who inspire and motivate, and draws from the rich diversity of the people it serves.

The President is committed to supporting the model Federal workforce. In his proclamation on Public Service Recognition Week, the President said:

“In the face of difficult challenges, public servants give new life to the values that bind our Nation together. Civil servants are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home. And despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration, and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it.

With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active duty service members, our Federal workforce represents extraordinary possibility. Our Government can and must be a force for good, and together, we can make sure our democracy works for all Americans. We know there are some things we do better when we join in common purpose, and with hard work and a commitment worthy of our Nation's potential, we can keep our country safe, guarantee basic security, and ensure everyone has a shot at success.“

We could not agree more. Federal service attracts people who are passionate about what they do. The mission of their agencies and their commitment to serving the American people are what drives them. And they come from – and work in – every corner of the country, reflecting the rich diversity and talent of this great country.

From the recent college graduate to the mid-career professional to the soon-to-be retiree, our employees are here to make a difference and to serve their country.

As we kick off Public Service Recognition Week, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on how America’s Federal workforce makes your life better each and every day.  And we hope you’ll join the President in recognizing the hard work and dedication of our nation’s public servants. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

 


Tonight is the Washington National’s “Salute to Public Service” game, and I’m excited to share the names of the five Federal employees I’ve asked to join me on the field when I throw out the first pitch.

For this year’s Public Service Recognition Week, OPM, with the support of a group of Excellence in Government fellows, decided to shine a light on something each and every employee does the first day on the job -- take the oath of office.

Being a Federal employee is about more than having a job. The #HonorTheOath campaign reminds us of the commitment each and every Federal employee makes when she or he begins a new job in the U.S. government.

Each of these individuals submitted a video explaining how they #HonorTheOath of office each day through serving the American people. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them on when the Washington Nationals play the Miami Marlins this evening.

Francisco Leija, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, joined the White House Fellow program and the Department of Homeland Security after bravely serving his country during many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He chose a life of public service to honor his parents, who immigrated to the United States seeking a better life for their family.

Margaret Miller Lenart is the recipient of multiple Director’s Awards at the Office of Personnel Management, where she works in Human Resources Solutions. She is passionate about helping other Federal agencies carry out their missions, recognizing that although she is “a little part in a big government…every day, [she helps] in a big way.”

Gail Morgado serves the Department of State in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Office of Overseas Operations. In the midst of working in South Sudan during their self-determination vote, Gail was thrilled to be able to return to Washington, D.C. to take her oath of office in the presence of her family.

Michael Odle is a Public Affairs Specialist for the National Indian Gaming Commission in the Department of the Interior. As both a member of the Federal civil service and the Armed Forces, Michael believes it is his duty to represent and serve the American people.

Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a researcher at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of the Treasury. Prior to joining the Bureau, she was part of a six-person crew that participated in a four-month-long Mars analog mission funded by NASA. She is excited to use her knowledge of science and technology to secure U.S. currency at home and abroad.

Simply put, the submissions from these devoted Federal employees inspired me. Their passion for their country, their stellar work ethic, and their pledge to the American people reminds me of why I am so fortunate to be the Director of OPM. If you have a story to share, I encourage you to participate at opm.gov/oath.

Let’s make PSRW a true celebration of America’s workforce. Thank you again to all of the women and men who make our country strong.

Director Archuleta practices her pitch for the Washington Nationals PSRW game.


As the nation pauses on Monday to celebrate President’s Day, I thought I’d share with you some interesting stories about the public service roles that presidents have had before reaching the White House. Public service truly was a calling for many of those who attained our nation’s highest office.

When we think of past presidents, Rutherford B. Hayes may not be the first to come to mind. But he has a fascinating history. He was a lawyer in Ohio as the Civil War unfolded. Hayes ended up serving with the 23rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He went on to represent Ohio’s Second Congressional District and while he served in the House, he voted for the Fourteenth Amendment, which established the American right to equal protection under the law. He was eventually elected Governor of Ohio and helped found a school for the deaf. That was a pretty impressive road to the White House.

Harry S. Truman served as an artillery officer in the National Guard during World War I. When he returned home from the war, he became director of Missouri’s Federal Re-employment Program, which was part of the Civil Works Administration. In that position, he helped create jobs for people who built or improved bridges, buildings, and other parts of the nation’s infrastructure. He then went on to serve in the U.S. Senate, where he supported such measures as the Transportation Act of 1940.

Jimmy Carter saw countless disparities that affected his community, so he decided to try to make a difference. That led to a lifetime of service. He was chairman of the Sumter County School Board and then the Georgia State Senate, where he fought for school integration. He later served as the Governor of Georgia, championing legislation that required equal disbursement of state aid to schools in wealthy and poor areas.

Before these presidents were elected to the highest office in the land, they served their country, their communities, and the public, working for issues they cared deeply about. Their experiences gave them unique insight into the issues that were affecting Americans and the knowledge to help make the changes they believed were needed.

This President’s Day I hope you will join me in reflecting on what an honor it is to serve the public. Our presidents are examples of what can be done when we work together toward a greater purpose.

Photo of Mount Rushmore


Posted 4:48 PM by

A funny thing happens when you’re 22. You dream big. You work hard. You charge forward. But you are not so sure where you are going. 

At 22, I had just graduated from college and had started teaching Pre-K in an inner city school in Denver. My ambition was to be a great teacher. I thought that would define my success. That was my plan, or so I thought. What I didn’t realize then was, there would be many, many more turns in the road.

I soon figured out that each year brings another set of experiences and growth. And each experience, each opportunity to learn, exponentially broadens the possibilities of who you can be. In reality, it takes a great deal of strength to move past who you are in the moment to who you can be in the future. And often that means just being willing to take a risk and follow your passion. It was taking risks and following my passion for public service that led me from the classroom to community service to government leadership.

It turns out that what I had imagined for myself at age 22 wasn’t exactly the right plan. But looking back, I realize that even though my career plan changed – and more than once -- there was one principle that remained constant through the years, one principle that served me well on my journey: You can’t be afraid. You can’t be afraid of a new experience. You can’t be afraid of a challenge. You can’t be afraid of failure.

At some point in our careers, we all face those moments of deep reflection and decision. I just knew that I had to keep trying new things, that I had to keep moving forward. And I knew that if one turn in the road didn’t work out, at least I would have had an interesting and perhaps valuable experience.

Not that long ago, I had a conversation with my daughter Graciela, who is in her 20s. She asked me: “Don’t I need to start thinking about the future and where I am going with my career?” I told her that perhaps she should be thinking about the next two to three years, not the next 20 or 30. In two or three or five years, everything might be different. Go ahead and make a plan, I told her, just be willing to change it when you need to or want to.

You don’t have to plan the rest of your life at 22. You don’t need to limit yourself. Try new things and don’t be afraid. Like I discovered, you never quite know where your potential, your talent, and most of all, your passion will take you.


Director in the middle of the picture with two teenage girls on either side. Girl on left is holding a phone above them to take a photo.

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