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As I celebrate my one-year anniversary as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I have reflected on OPM’s accomplishments over the past few months. I think about how honored I am to be a part of a team that has done so much for the American people. And today I hosted a digital town hall to talk about how OPM will continue to move America’s Workforce forward in the coming years.
As Director, I have met so many Federal employees from across the country. Their wisdom and their suggestions have enlightened me and guided me. Their feedback and input inspired us to create a new initiative that focuses on how we can recruit, develop, and engage a diverse workforce for today and for the future. I’m calling this initiative REDI, which stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion.
When it comes to recruitment, REDI will help us hire more people like the guests I highlighted at today’s town hall. Gioia Massa, whom I met at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is living her childhood dream of growing plants in space. Miriam Martin, whom I visited with at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, is a woman veteran who wants to use her military logistics skills in Federal service. And Matthew Gonzales, a young man I met in Los Angeles who works on satellite communications for the Air Force. There are many Gioias, Miriams, and Matthews, driven by innovation and imagination, who want to be a part of the Federal family. REDI will help hiring managers bring such talented people into their agencies.
With the REDI initiative, we are also rethinking how we better recruit and communicate with job-seekers. And as our workforce ages, we need to focus on recruiting more young people. The millennial generation wants to work at places where they can innovate and make their marks. We are increasingly using social media to reach them, and that outreach will continue to grow in the coming months. We also must create the right pipelines for people to come into government. That’s why we are enhancing Pathways, OPM’s programs for student interns, recent graduates, and Presidential Management Fellows. Pathways participants get a taste of government service through fulfilling experiences that include training and real-work exposure. And then maybe, they will join the next wave of Federal employees.
I will be talking more about our efforts in the coming weeks and months and I look forward to sharing them in more detail with you. This past year has taught me that Federal employees are constantly looking for better ways to do their jobs better and to serve the American people. I know that REDI will help them do that.
So thank you to my Federal family for an incredibly rewarding first year. Thank you for all you do each and every day to serve America. Going forward together, we will continue to show every American that they are served by a mission-driven, talented, and model Federal workforce.
As I work with the President to build a world-class Federal management team, I have launched an important series of meetings that we are calling Thought Leader Talks.
The three-part series is bringing together inspired and innovative leaders from a wide array of sectors -- government, business, good government groups, academia, and global organizations -- to discuss the future of executive leadership. These discussions will give us an opportunity to leverage our combined expertise to advance senior leadership for the Federal government. We will work together to not only address the challenges we are currently facing, but also to share best practices from our individual worlds.
During our inaugural session on September 12, we discussed the future of leadership. Specifically, we explored the qualities successful leaders need and ways to succeed in tight fiscal times. We also discussed the difficulties of engaging multiple generations of employees.
The meeting quickly zeroed in on millennials. They are the future of the Federal workforce and of the leadership of that workforce. We addressed our responsibility to recruit them to public service and to prepare them to take over for the current generation. We know from studies that these young people are driven by a desire to make a difference in the world. They want to help people and bring change in the policy areas they care about. In short, they are perfect for public service. Now we need to tackle the challenges of bringing them on board.
At our meetings in October and November, we will address two additional topics: ways to develop leaders using simulations of actual workplace situations and the future of assessment and performance. Both discussions are vital to understanding how we develop the strongest leadership teams possible, which is a key priority for the President and for me.
I am thrilled that these meetings are bringing together a diverse and talented group of leaders to tackle such an important topic. Regardless of our missions, we all face many of the same complex challenges. We all have a need for excellence in leadership. Together, we will continue to combine our unique expertise, experiences, and perspectives to move us toward a future that raises the bar for leaders, for the Federal workforce, and for executive performance across the nation.
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a great way to really learn what they do every day, and how we can make their lives better. This week, I joined the President’s “Day in the Life” effort. Throughout the summer, senior administrators are traveling the country speaking with -- and learning from -- the people we work for every day.
While in Los Angeles this past week, I had such fun spending time with two extraordinary individuals – Matthew Gonzales, a Federal employee at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and Megan Rodriguez, an Air Force veteran who works for the state of California as an employment assistant helping other veterans find jobs. Both are young Latinos driven by a passion for public service.
Matthew entered the Federal government as a Pathways intern, a program that brings the best young talent into government and sets them on the path to a Federal career. Matthew is now a civilian program manager at the space and missile center. He also co-led the first chapter of Young Government Leaders in Los Angeles.
Matthew shared something that really made an impression on me. At his job, there is always a lot going on and he is experiencing and doing many things for the first time. But, he said, with pride, while he is not always expected to know everything right away, he is always expected to learn. Matthew knows he has the support and tools that he needs to keep growing, and that is part of the reason why he believes the Federal government is a great place to start his career. That spirit of service is exactly what our nation needs. And I know that Matthew is one of hundreds of thousands of Federal employees with that same enthusiasm.
Megan has a passion for helping fellow veterans find jobs. While attending Mount St. Mary’s College, she founded its Veterans Outreach Association and she has continued that work now that she has graduated. We discussed our shared passion for helping women veterans get Federal jobs, especially STEM jobs. She would be a great fit in the Federal government.
In Matthew and Megan, I saw so many positive qualities: passion, dedication, an overwhelming desire to help people, a call to service, and a truly hopeful vision of the future. These young professionals remind me what it was like to once walk in shoes similar to theirs. I know there are obstacles they face each day, but their commitment to public service makes me confident we will continue to have a diverse, talented, caring, and devoted Federal workforce. Their insights helped me understand firsthand what young Latinos are thinking and what we need to do to attract them to Federal service.
I was glad to be able to tell them that we are already working hard to increase the number of Federal employees from underrepresented communities and to support and develop them in their careers. They share my commitment that we have a workforce that truly represents the bright mosaic of the American family.
So really, we learned a lot from each other. If we take the time to stop, listen, and just for a moment, put ourselves in another’s shoes, we’ll keep learning. And that makes all the difference.
As the first Latina Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one of my highest priorities is to recruit a diverse Federal workforce. As part of that effort, last week I attended the League of United Latin American Citizens’ annual conference. LULAC is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. For 85 years, it has fought for civil rights, education rights, legal rights, housing rights, and employment rights.
LULAC shares OPM’s goal of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. We both know how important it is to have a government that looks like and truly represents the people we serve. Americans benefit from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in our country.
We do a lot of great work with organizations like LULAC. Along with other Federal agencies, OPM is a partner in its Federal Training Institute, which helps to train and mentor the next generation of Latino leaders.
As part of the President’s Management Agenda, OPM is placing a renewed emphasis on leadership pipelines. We want to ensure that all groups, including Latinos, are fully represented in the workplace. We are working on an onboarding program to make sure that new Senior Executive Service members have the support and coaching they need, not only when they first begin their assignment, but throughout their tenure. And we are focusing on mentoring. Connecting with leaders in our own communities can give us the help and direction we need. We all need mentors and should strive to be mentors to others.
The National Council of La Raza is another leader in the Latino community, and I look forward to speaking at their annual conference in Los Angeles next week. While I’m there, I will also meet with Latino students at several colleges, sharing with them what the Federal government’s employment needs are and asking what would entice them to consider a career in Federal service.
When I visit with these organizations and their members, I get the chance to do something I can’t do anywhere else: Hear firsthand the perspectives I need to make our strategies the best they can possibly be. My commitment to a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce is unshakable. Together, we can make sure Latinos are represented at every level of Federal service, especially at every decision-making table.
Through his Management Agenda, President Obama is committed to delivering a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government for the American people.
We have had the honor to take a leading role with the “People and Culture” portion of the agenda - a portion we believe is the cornerstone of the agenda. Why? Because an engaged, innovative, and productive Federal workforce is the key to everything we do in service to America. And last week, we released our detailed Agency Priority Goal action plan on how we plan to improve the Federal workforce both for today and for tomorrow.
Within this action plan, we are taking a three-pronged approach to make sure the Federal government successfully unlocks the talent of the workforce we have today and builds the workforce we need for the future. Through these efforts, we believe we will be able to create a culture of excellence and engagement that will foster higher performance; an exemplary Federal management team, starting with the Senior Executive Service; and innovative recruiting tools that allow agencies to attract the best talent from every segment of society.
We’d like to describe for you these important elements of the People and Culture pillar.
Driving Employee Engagement: We need to draw on the varied talent, expertise and experience of our great workforce, and to do that, we need to give our employees some new tools:
Building a World-Class Management Team: Starting with the Senior Executive Service, we will position our management team to provide the highest level of leadership within and across Departments and Agencies.
Finding the Best Talent: Working with stakeholders, OPM is meeting with agency and department heads and untying the “knots” getting in their way of recruiting the talent they need.
These initiatives of the People and Culture pillar were developed over the past year by some of the most senior officials in government through the President’s Management Council along with staff from all agencies.
We want to thank our teams at OPM and the Presidential Personnel Office as well as our agency partners, the CHCO council, the President’s Leadership Workshop, and the Office of Management and Budget for what we know will be their tireless efforts to implement this ambitious action plan. Furthermore, we invite your feedback as we move forward given this will be a living agenda. I know that together, we will make sure that the Federal government is a model for the 21st Century.
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