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Dark brown text says Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month in all caps is at the top of the picture. Under is a short centered line and the words United Our Voices By Speaking Together. The background is a pattern with various oranges, from pale orange to a bright orange. OPM.gov is in the corner in white text.

By Steve Shih, Deputy Associate Director for Senior Executive Services and Performance Management

Each May, the Federal Government recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – an opportunity to honor those Americans who can trace their ancestry to a multitude of countries in Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific Island territories, and for us to celebrate those who contribute in so many ways to the success of our Nation.  President Donald J. Trump recently issued a Proclamation recognizing May as AAPI Heritage Month, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), along with other Federal agencies, join President Trump in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This special observance originated in June 1977, when Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California called upon the President to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.  In October 1978, President Jimmy Carter expanded the observance as an annual celebration, and 12 years later President George H.W. Bush extended the week-long celebration to a month.  The official designation of May as Asian American and Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law in 1992.  The month of May was chosen to observe Asian and Pacific Americans for a number of reasons, including to commemorate the first Japanese who came to the country in May of 1843, and to mark the May 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad which involved the labor of many Chinese immigrants.

The AAPI community is made up of culturally and linguistically-diverse people, representing populations from many countries and islands.  The diversity of AAPIs – and the value of diversity in general to the excellence of our Nation – are reflected in the theme for this year’s celebration, “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.”  The theme speaks not only to the variety of AAPI experiences in the United States but encourages all Americans to join together to share our important individual experiences and to come together to make our Nation great.

Throughout the history of our country, our citizens from the AAPI community have made significant contributions exemplifying American values of hard work and perseverance.  Members of the AAPI community have excelled in so many patriotic and leading ways, including as artists; authors; athletes; teachers; scientists; doctors; engineers; lawyers; government leaders; and brave members of our Armed Forces.

OPM continues our commitment to helping the Federal Government achieve a strong and united workforce – a world-class workforce – to serve the American people.  AAPI Heritage Month reminds us we can best solve the complex and historic challenges of our time by solving them together; when we join our individual strengths, we unify and magnify our nation’s effectiveness. 

For information on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, please visit: http://asianpacificheritage.gov/ and http://asianpacificheritage.gov/about/.

 


National Women's History Month 2017: Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business

Each March, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management honors Women’s History Month by recognizing the invaluable contributions of women who have inspired and shaped our Nation through civil service.  Women’s History Month honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of women throughout the history of the United States. 

Since the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883, it has been a fundamental value of civil service to draw from all segments of society, where selection and career advancement of Federal employees are “determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge and skills.”  The second person ever to be appointed to the U.S. Civil Service, and first ever woman, was Mary F. Hoyt.  Miss Hoyt earned her job because of the score she received on the first official competitive examination.  On September 5, 1883, Miss Hoyt was appointed to the Treasury Department as a clerk for a salary of $900 a year.    

While you don’t need to look back over 130 years to find incredible examples of leadership, service, and innovation from women in public service, I would like to highlight a few for you. Each one is a pioneer in her own way, but all have displayed the courage and determination it takes to break barriers on the way to greatness.

Frances Perkins was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet and was the Secretary of Labor for 12 years – the longest tenure in the history of that agency. During that time, Perkins fought for laws to set minimum wages, pensions, unemployment insurance, restrictions on child labor practices, and contributed to the creation of the Social Security Act of 1935.

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper lived a life of firsts: the first Seminole to graduate high school, read and write English, and get certified as a public nurse. She went on to initiate the beginnings of the Indian Health Care Program. Jumper became the first female elected tribal Chief in the U.S. and served on the National Congress on Indian Opportunity, where she created the United Southeastern Tribes coalition, which today consists of more than 26 tribes.

Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic American woman to fly in space, where she logged nearly 1,000 hours on four missions. She is the current Director of the Johnson Space Center – the first Hispanic and second woman to hold that position. Ochoa is a co-inventor on three patents, and her research has led to critical developments in optical systems for automated space exploration.

During my 25 years as a civil servant, I have had the opportunity to work for and with many amazing Federal employees, many of whom have been women. Merit System Principles are honored and the United States is well-served when agencies select employees based on merit, and not gender. The Federal government continues to aspire to be the model employer where, regardless of gender, employees are afforded the opportunity for a challenging and rewarding career in service of our country. 

As we prepare for the future challenges facing our country, let us pause and reflect on the women who have inspired us all to go further, take risks, and do more good. I invite you to join us in honoring those women who inspire you as we observe Women’s History Month, whether they are famous historical figures or those who work in the cubicle next to you.

For information on Women’s History Month, please visit: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/

The background is a close up of two windows of OPM's headquarters in Washington D.C. reflected in the window is American and OPM flags waving in the wind. Beside the building is blue sky and in black text:

Every day, the 2.1 million women and men of the Federal Workforce tackle some of our country’s most pressing issues. Whether caring for our veterans, supporting our troops, fighting forest fires, or planning a mission to Mars, Federal employees are focused on making life better for the American people.

In a 2014 address, President Obama said: “To rise to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we need a Federal Workforce with the necessary skills, experience, and tools to meet its diverse mission now and in the future.”  At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), we work to fulfill this vision. Our mission is to help agencies recruit, retain, and honor a world-class Federal workforce to serve the American people.

Today, OPM has joined our sister agencies in sketching out for the American people a summary of the efforts we have made during this administration to fulfill the President’s vision.

Over the past eight years, our overarching focus has been to modernize the way OPM supports agencies, current and former Federal employees, and their families. By embracing new ways to use data to make decisions, investing in new tools and technologies, and streamlining our processes, we have helped foster a workforce capable of tackling 21st century challenges. In particular, we have focused on:

  • Making the Federal Government a model employer by adopting workplace policies that reflect the modern American economy;

     

  • Strengthening the personnel system to improve Federal agencies’ capacity to recruit, hire, develop, engage, and retain workforces ready to meet 21st century challenges;

     

  • Building a roadmap to better protecting the integrity of the Federal workforce by modernizing the way the government performs background investigations;

     

  • Improving our operations by embracing new tools and technology and enhancing our focus on customer service and cyber security.

The memorandum goes into detail about our agency-wide efforts. I want to highlight just some of the work we’ve done. You can see a fuller description of these efforts and what we see as the best way to continue this journey in OPM’s full memorandum.

In striving to make the Federal government a model employer, OPM has expanded opportunities for people from all elements of society. We’ve made progress in closing the gender pay gap, increased workplace flexibilities to help employees balance their work life and home life. We’ve also promoted diversity and inclusion in the Federal workforce.

Strengthening the personnel system needs to reinforce and build on the merit system principles that represent the bedrock values that have long stood as the foundation of this nation’s civil service system.

Through our Pathways programs we’ve created clearer paths to Federal careers for students and recent graduates and enabled the government to compete more effectively with the private sector for this talent. We’ve brought experts from the private sector into government through innovative fellowship programs. And we established a hiring excellence campaign to help human resources specialists and managers hire the critical talent they need.

The events of recent years have underscored the need to guard against threats to the Federal Government’s personnel, property, and information systems. OPM plays a central role in protecting against threats as we conduct 95 percent of the Federal Government’s background investigations that help agencies make employment, security clearance, and credentialing decisions. By establishing the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) and continuing to modernize the background investigations process, OPM has come a long way in helping the Federal Government build and maintain a trusted workforce.

At OPM customer service is at the heart of everything we do. OPM has embraced new tools and technologies to help deliver better customer service and better secure the information we house. We’ve made significant progress in modernizing and securing information technology systems. We continue to provide high quality health benefits for the 9.2 million Federal employees, retirees and their families who are enrolled in the Federal Employment health Benefit program.

These are some of the highlights of the work OPM has done during this administration to fulfill our mission to recruit, hire, develop, retain and honor the men and women who work every day to deliver excellent service to the American people.

There is much more work to be done. I am confident that the dedicated men and women of OPM will continue in their efforts to build an even greater workforce now, and in the future.

 


Multicolor background with red, purple, blue and white. Blue stripe at the top that says in white text: Federal Benefits Open Season is here! In the middle in large blue text it: Open Season 2016. Underneath in smaller text it says November 14,2016 - December 12, 2016. Icons are below with a tooth, eye, medical symbol, RX Stethoscope, heart and heartbeat symbol and an ear. OPM.GOV in red text at the bottom right corner.

Federal Benefits Open Season is here! Each year, we encourage all eligible employees and retirees to review their health, dental, vision, and dependent care needs and to make changes to or enroll in one of the available benefit programs. Open Season is the time to make choices you generally cannot make at any other time of the year.

Remember, all health, dental, or vision plans are not alike. Open Season is about exercising your ability to choose the benefits that best meet you and your family’s needs. You have between now and December 12 to make your benefit decisions. Here is a link to learn more about the Federal Benefits Open Season.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

The FEHB Program covers over 8.2 million employees, retirees, and their families all across this country. For 2017, there will be 245 health plans available, with 15 of them available nationwide. And remember, all FEHB Plans now offer the opportunity to enroll in a Self Plus One enrollment type. This option allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member who you designate, such as a spouse or child. If you did not take advantage of Self Plus One last year, you can do so for 2017. You can learn more about the FEHB Program on our dedicated Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

For 2017, FEDVIP offers 10 dental plans, six of which are nationwide plans. There are also four vision plans, all available nationwide. Coverage under a FEDVIP dental or vision plan is a great way to fill in the gaps of any health plan coverage you now have or to help pay for services that are not covered or available under your FEHB health plan. Some highlights: FEDVIP offers adult orthodontia. In-network Class A dental services, such as oral exams, prophylaxis and topical application of fluoride, are free. And, you can enroll in a self-only vision plan for less than $3 per pay period. As always, check plan brochures for specific coverage and compare plans. You can learn more about FEDVIP on the Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS)

While retirees are not eligible to enroll, most employees are eligible. You should check with your agency’s human resources office to verify your eligibility. For those who are eligible, FSAFEDS offers three accounts to choose from: a health care account; a limited expense health care account; and a dependent care account. Participation in these accounts allows you to lower your taxable income by setting aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible health, dental, vision, and dependent care expenses, such as co-pays, prescription drug costs, orthodontics, eyeglasses, and child/elder care. As a reminder, there is now a “carry over” provision under which enrollees can carry over up to $500 of unused Health Care FSA money into the following year. This means that you won’t have to forfeit money you don’t use by the end of the calendar year. To take advantage of the carry over of 2016 funds, you must re-enroll for 2017.

To learn more about FSAs, how much you can contribute, how much you can save, and changes for the 2017 benefit period, head over to our Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

Don’t forget, you have until December 12 to review your needs and those of your family and to make the choices that are right for you.  


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