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STEM

On Wednesday, the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became a showcase for the Office of Personnel Management’s initiative to attract the best talent in science, technology engineering and math to Federal service.

This “Datapalooza” was part of a celebration of the incredible work Federal STEM employees do now, and it was also a look to the future as we work to fulfill the President’s vision of growing a diverse, engaged and talented STEM workforce for the future.

Our team leaders here at OPM have forged an amazing partnership with Federal employees from across government and from the private sector. The idea was to find ways to use OPM’s valuable data to understand our current STEM workforce and to provide the tools and resources managers need to help them attract and recruit new STEM talent.

This work is so exciting and so important. Let me tell you about just a couple of the projects.

Ray Parr, OPM’s data guru in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, developed a heat map that shows where our STEM applicants are coming from. His map showed us that the four states contributing the most applicants for Federal STEM jobs are Maryland, Virginia, California and Texas. And, his team produced an applicant dashboard that provides insights into the interests and experiences of job applicants.

At another demonstration, Gary Lukowski, who manages our Data Analysis Group, enhanced the rich data from OPM’s Fedscope with charts and graphs to illustrate the relationships between STEM employees and their agencies. This kind of information will help hiring managers predict trends in the Federal STEM workforce.

We at OPM know that the Federal government is in competition with the private, non-profit and academic sectors for key STEM personnel. One way that OPM, OMB and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are working together to close skills gaps is to remind agencies about some pay flexibilities that can help attract the best talent.

As we say in the Critical Position Pay Authority Memorandum for Chief Human Capital Officer, the critical position pay authority is a potentially underutilized flexibility that can support our efforts. We are encouraging agencies with mission critical STEM positions to better educate agency staff about this opportunity.

Go to the Pay and Leave Flexibilities for Recruitment and Retention Fact Sheet and the Students, Recent Graduates, and Pathways Fact Sheet for additional information on applying to and recruiting for Federal STEM positions.

This exciting STEM event was just the beginning. I am committed to making sure that together with our partners across government, OPM will continue to innovate and expand the tools and resources we provide agencies so they can bring on board the best talent possible to serve the American people.

Director Arculeta looks at one of the projects on display on a large screen on the wall with data displayed during STEM Day. She is surrounded by a large group of approximately 10 people all facing toward the screen.

As I’ve begun to look at the results of the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, I’m happy to report that there are more than 336,000 people under the age of 33 in our workforce and most of them say they are satisfied with their jobs. They also strongly believe that the work they do is important and that they have real opportunities to improve their skills.

I am not surprised. I have traveled around the country meeting with young Federal workers, veterans and college students. They all have something in common: They are looking for work that is purpose-driven and where they feel they can make a difference. And the new FEVS survey results show many millennials are finding just that in Federal service.

The results have encouraged me to make sure that we at OPM redouble our efforts to attract, develop and retain these talented young people. We are doing that in several ways: OPM is working hard on a new initiative called REDI to Connect. REDI stands for recruitment, engagement, diversity and inclusion.

A key feature of this initiative includes OPM’s work to enhance our Pathways programs, which provide internships to students in school and to recent college graduates. Both the Pathways program and our Presidential Management Fellows program are great ways for millennials to try out Federal service to see if it’s a good fit for them.

As part of REDI, OPM is also expanding the use of social media so that we can reach millennials via the platforms that they use in their job searches. And we’re reaching out to the young users of our main job portal – USAJOBS – to see how we can make is more user-friendly.

I am so gratified to see that our Federal millennials have opportunity with us in government. And I am taking seriously the areas where the data shows we can do better.

Thank you to all in our Federal family who responded to this important survey. Stay tuned for more results in the coming weeks.

Image of thought bubble with cartoon people. Next to it are the words Millennials Finding Opportunity in Federal Service


Last week, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) co-hosted the first ever Data Jam focused on jobs, labor & skills.

Closing the skills gap and especially empowering the Federal Science Technology
Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce is key in our efforts to deliver on the core mission of OPM: to recruit, train and retain a world class workforce for the 21st Century.

This event at the White House was a way to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs and experts in technology to brainstorm new uses of data as another tool in our tool kit for this effort.


The number of Federal jobs that rely on STEM talent is amazing. More than 300,000 people comprise the Federal STEM workforce nationwide– from scientists researching cancer cures at the National Institutes of Health to astronauts putting satellites into space at NASA to web developers helping people access mortgage information at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 These STEM workers are vital to the Federal government’s mission and OPM is determined to work with agencies to help them better recruit, train, and retain such talented professionals.  And its OPM’s responsibility to find innovative ways to better use the key personnel and applicant data that we guard even as we ensure the integrity and security of this information.

That’s where this Data Jam and future meetings like it comes in. The first brainstorming session focused on six key issues:

  • Identifying skills & talent in real-time
  • Optimizing quality of work produced
  • Tracking flow into, through, and out of various career paths
  • Employee engagement and its impacts
  • Projecting future STEM needs
  • Diversity of the STEM workforce

And the Data Jam elicited some exciting proposed solutions – from data visualizations to online tools to skills marketplaces. The participants committed to building some prototypes of these innovative solutions. We want to partner with entrepreneurs and innovators to develop tools that can ensure that the American people have a Federal STEM workforce that is more diverse, more capable, and more engaged than ever before.  

Data Jam was only the first step. Later this year OPM and OSTP, in collaboration with other Federal agencies, will showcase some of the innovative solutions raised at Data Jam at the first Jobs, Labor & Skills Datapalooza.

We want to hear from everyone who has an idea of how to better use open data to help us grow and expand the Federal STEM workforce. This is a goal we can achieve together.


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