The Federal Government will Become America's Model Employer for the 21st Century.
Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People.
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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.
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:
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.
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.
This Veterans Day, as we honor and express our gratitude to the men and women who so valiantly served our nation in uniform, I want us to take a moment and think about the battle so many of our returning heroes face – how to make the transition to the next chapter of their lives.
I’m thinking about veterans like Christopher, who after being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during his decade of service in the Air Force went from job to job, doing work that did not satisfy him.
Or Georgia, a disabled combat veteran whose work as a water purification and distribution specialist during Desert Shield/Desert Storm did not, she said, translate very well in the civilian sector.
Or Julien, a Purple Heart recipient who was a field radio operator in the Marine Corps. When he left the military, his challenge was to balance going to school full time and working full time.
Veterans like these were on President Obama’s mind when he issued Executive Order 13518 to honor our obligations to our nation’s returning service members and establish a hallmark Federal employment initiative to encourage more veterans to join the Federal service.
A look at the numbers shows we’re delivering on the President’s objective. When he issued his
Executive Order on November 9, 2009, the percentage of new veterans hired into the Federal Government was 24 percent. At the end of fiscal year (FY) 2015, that percentage was 32.5 percent. Since FY 2009, the Federal Government has hired more than half a million veterans in 24 different agencies.
But the numbers don’t begin to tell the whole story or speak to why the President and I believe it’s critical for the Federal Government to recruit talented, qualified, and dedicated veterans for the Federal workforce.
Not only is hiring veterans the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. The skills, leadership, and discipline that veterans bring to Federal workplaces across this great nation are essential to our ability to meet our mission to serve the American people. Our collective challenge was and remains to understand and capitalize on the strengths that these veterans can bring to Federal service, and to help connect them with agencies across the government that need these skills.
Each year the Federal Government spends millions of dollars training service members like Christopher, Georgia and Julien to meet many and varied challenges. When service members are ready to hang up their uniforms and transition to civilian life, we can maximize our investments in their training by encouraging them to continue serving their country as civilian Federal employees.
As part of the President’s veterans initiative we created the one-stop website for Federal employment– FedsHireVets.gov – where veterans and their families can get information and resources to help them find employment opportunities. Veteran Employment Program Offices are in place in 24 agencies and the website provides information on how veterans can connect with these offices to learn about career opportunities and about how to navigate the Federal employment process.
The Executive Order also established the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, which has tackled such issues as helping agencies find ways to retain the talented veterans they hire. The Council also looked at how to maximize opportunities for women veterans to join the Federal service.
But the real success stories come from veterans themselves.
After trying out different jobs Christopher became a volunteer, then an intern with the National Park Service. He says he is now “living my dream” as a Park Ranger in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in California.
Georgia now works for the Bureau of Land Management as an Outdoor Recreation Planner and says the best part of her job is she knows that what she does “makes a difference.”
And Julien now has a bachelor’s of science in business administration, is working at the Department of Labor and says: “I could not be more thrilled about the next stage of my career in the Federal Government.”
Even as we celebrate this progress and the success stories of these talented veterans, we must rededicate ourselves to helping more of their fellow veterans and help agencies recruit, train and retain these talented employees.
And on this Veterans Day, I want to thank the women and men who made the choice to serve their fellow Americans - first in uniform and now as part of the two-million strong Federal workforce.
Whether its animal welfare, art and music programs, support for veterans or the environment, cancer research or soup kitchens, the issues Federal employees care about are varied and diverse. But Federal employees share a common goal: they care about the world we live in, and want to make it a better place. You should know that through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), you can contribute to your favorite cause that has special meaning for you and/or your family.
You and nearly 4 million of your Federal civilian, postal, and military colleagues continue to make the CFC the largest and most successful workplace philanthropic giving programs in the world. In 2015, Federal employees donated nearly $178 million through the CFC to charitable causes in their local communities, throughout the nation, and around the world. In fact, since the program began, more than $8 billion has been contributed by Federal employees to help those in need.
The reasons for you to give through the CFC are simple:
Choice – Participation in the CFC is voluntary and easy to do. You can choose from a number of giving methods: one-time or recurring; cash, check, credit card, or payroll deduction; paper pledge form or online pledge. The CFC’s online database also lets you search more than 19,000 charities based on your interests – with no geographic restrictions – to help you identify organizations you’d like to support.
Confidence – You can be confident that the organization you donate to meets strict accountability and oversight standards. Nonprofit organizations apply annually to be included in the CFC’s list of charitable organizations, ensuring their continued adherence to CFC’s public accountability standards. Also, local CFC efforts are audited annually and are overseen by a committee of Federal employees to ensure the CFC protects the interests of federal employees.
Convenience - The most convenient giving method is the most popular. With a simple payroll deduction, most donors realize they can give more to their favorite charities by spreading their gifts out over time. Let your payroll office do the work of sending a small portion of your pay to the causes that matter to you—a little bit every pay period.
Through the CFC, you can direct your gift to the causes you care about the most. No matter how you choose to “show some love”, in the spirit of this year’s CFC theme, now is the time for you to make a difference. Please give what you can to make a difference during the 2016 CFC season. No gift is too small!
The 2016 CFC runs through December 15, 2016. To make your pledge/donation or to request additional information, please contact your agency’s CFC coordinator, visit opm.gov/cfc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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