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Our Director Director's Blog

Welcome! We are committed to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people.

Take a look at our blogs and share with others. Once you are on a particular blog page, you can give us the thumbs up. Connect with Acting Director Cobert on Twitter: @OPMDirector and Facebook.com/OPMDirector. Also, find us on other social media channels.

An hourglass with sand running through it. On the side is the FEGLI logo and the words Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance. Open Season: September 1- 30, 2016

Most Federal employees make a decision about life insurance coverage when they join the Federal Government and rarely revisit that decision. But as the circumstances of our lives change, so does our need for protection.

Beginning on September 1 and continuing throughout the month, it will be Open Season for Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI). This is an opportunity for Federal employees and their families to consider what levels of protection might be appropriate for them and either to enroll in FEGLI for the first time or make changes to their coverage. The availability of life insurance coverage is just one of the comprehensive packages of health and other benefits available to all Federal employees.

Importantly, if you enroll for the first time or change your coverage, there will be no medical exam required and no health questions to answer. Paying for the coverage is simple: premiums are deducted from your paycheck.

Financial issues to take into consideration when making a life insurance coverage decision include preparing for burial expenses, medical costs, and the loss of salary and benefits when a loved one passes away.  Additional child care costs, elder care costs, transportation needs, assistance with maintaining a home, and other lifestyle concerns may also be part of the equation.

As a Federal employee, you were probably automatically enrolled in FEGLI Basic insurance when you first joined the Federal service, unless you waived this coverage. Basic insurance covers your life for whichever is greater: Your annual rate of basic pay, rounded up to the next whole $1,000, plus $2,000; or $10,000. This is called the Basic Insurance Amount (BIA). The Government pays one-third of the premium cost for Basic and you pay two-thirds.

If more life insurance coverage is appropriate for your family, as a Federal employee you can add an additional $10,000 of coverage (Option A) and/or additional coverage in an amount one to five times your annual rate of basic pay (Option B).

Finally, with Option C, you can elect coverage on the lives of your spouse and eligible dependent children under age 22.  You can have one to five multiples of Option C.  Each multiple is worth $5,000 on the life of your spouse and $2,500 on the lives of each eligible child. 

If you and your family are satisfied with your current FEGLI coverage, you don’t need to do anything.  Employees can always elect coverage within 60 days of a FEGLI qualifying life event – such as marriage or the birth of a child - or at any time by passing a physical exam.  If you elect to take a physical exam, you can select any coverage that FEGLI offers, except the Option C family coverage.

Employees and annuitants can cancel coverage, reduce coverage, or change beneficiaries at any time. As a reminder, this Open Season is a great time to update your beneficiaries if they don’t reflect your current wishes.

If you decide to enroll for the first time or change the coverage you have now, you should know that the coverage will take effect a year from now, during the first full pay period in October 2017, as long as you meet pay and duty status requirements, meaning you are actively working.  For most biweekly employees, this means coverage will be effective on October 1, 2017.  For most Postal employees, this means coverage will be effective on October 14, 2017.

Employees who are approaching retirement should note that all regular rules for continuing FEGLI into retirement still apply. This includes the requirement that for any types or multiples of coverage an employee wishes to bring with them into retirement, the employee must have that coverage throughout their last five years of Federal service, or their entire period or periods of service if they retire with less than five years of service.

So because coverage elected during the FEGLI Open Season will be effective no sooner than October 2017, if an employee wants to bring their open season coverage into retirement, they must retire in October 2022 or later, five years after the coverage they selected during Open Season becomes effective.

For more information on FEGLI Open Season and FEGLI in general, including current premium amounts, please visit: www.opm.gov/FEGLIopenseason


Green background with a picture of people walking up a staircase made of books.  And the title 'The Pathways Program: Four Years Later. A New Report,' in white and black.

As we celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Pathways Programs, I’m excited to share a study that highlights the way this program has significantly contributed to the Federal Government’s ability to recruit, develop, and retain a world-class workforce.

The Federal Government is only as successful as the people who carry its mission forward. And, with more Federal employees becoming eligible for retirement each day, students, college graduates, and advanced degree holders are a great source of talent. Pathways includes internships, positions for recent graduates, and our Presidential Management Fellows program. If you are a student or recent graduate interested in the many opportunities in the Federal Workforce, please visit: https://www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads

In his 2010 Executive Order that helped establish what has become today’s Pathways Programs, the President said that “the Federal Government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates who infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talents, and unique perspectives.” I couldn’t agree more.

Research tells us that students and recent graduates about to enter the workforce believe in public service and want to make a difference. The Federal Government needs to tap into that innovative spirit and commitment to service. And that is exactly what our Pathways programs continue to do.

Recently, OPM conducted a Pathways Programs study to analyze agencies’ use of Pathways, highlight best practices, and develop recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.

One exciting finding was that 93 percent of Pathways Programs participants surveyed said they plan to remain at their current agency or continue to work in the Federal Government in the immediate future. This is good news for our nation.

To help build on our success, and working with our partners at the White House Office of Management and Budget and Presidential Personnel office, OPM this year began a Hiring Excellence Campaign (HEC) designed to improve, modernize, and transform the way we recruit and hire new talent into the Federal service. Improving the use of Pathways is one part of that effort. To find out more about HEC, or to register for an upcoming session, please visit www.OPM.gov/HiringExcellence.

At OPM we want to help agencies across government make the most of the Pathways program and do all they can to encourage students, recent graduates, and advanced degree holders to use Pathways to try out a Federal career.

OPM has developed a Pathways toolkit to help hiring managers and HR professionals make the most out of these exciting programs. The toolkit includes a handbook for HR specialists, a toolkit for hiring managers, Pathways flexibilities charts, and a webinars to help supervisors and HR staff better use Pathways. You can get more information on these sessions at HRU.gov.

Each day OPM and our partners across government are working to improve the way we attract, develop, and retain the critical talent we need to fulfill our missions and service the American people. Tools and initiatives such as the Hiring Excellence Campaign, training opportunities on HRU.gov, and the Pathways toolkit are invaluable resources that can help us meet this important challenge.


Chalkboard with apple, pencils and clock, with the phrase 'Back to School'

The summer is flying by. Youngsters have begun picking out their new notebooks and backpacks as they get ready to go back to school. This may be a good time for Federal employees to consider going back to the classroom to enhance their knowledge and skills.

It’s possible the path forward in your career is in another field - perhaps even one that did not exist a few years ago. Or maybe you just want to develop in your current career. This might even be a great time to build a career in one of our high-demand fields like information technology, health care, accounting, or cybersecurity.

Each year the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey tells us that Federal employees want more opportunities to enrich their learning and branch out into new fields and new opportunities.

Take it from Tameka Lyons. She was already enrolled in the University of Maryland University College when she joined the National Institutes of Health. She found out about the tuition discount for Federal employees. For Tameka, the 25 percent discount on her tuition meant she was able to fund her last two semesters out of pocket. “I didn’t need to take out loans, so that was just an awesome feeling,” she said. Tameka said she didn’t have to contemplate taking fewer classes because she was worried about being saddled with so much debt.

Tameka, who is now an HR specialist at the Department of Justice, is just one of the many Federal employees taking advantage of this important benefit.

If you’re thinking about where to go to get the advanced learning that will help you take the next step on your career path, I wanted to make sure you knew about the tuition discounts on higher education that are available to you, your spouse, and your legal dependents. These are opportunities for both in person and online learning, depending on the program. OPM has made agreements with these six institutions and we’re working on more alliances in the future. Here are the available programs and the links to more information about their classes.

I encourage all Federal employees  to continue to expand their  knowledge and education – whether through the programs listed above or in the many other educational programs available at your agency or at schools across the country. We hope these discounts make it easier for you and your family to reach your educational goals.


Picture of a desk and a computer with the phrase 'Engaging a Remote Workforce'

One of any leader’s most important responsibilities is to engage his or her workforce. When your employees don’t work in the same building as you do, creating an engaged workforce can seem even more challenging. As more and more of our colleagues telework or work remotely, it’s even more important that we find ways to make them fully included partners in the work we do every day.

I’m happy to report that OPM has some ideas that can help, and we’re sponsoring an online webinar to share some of them.

Please join us on Tuesday, August 16, at 11:00 am EDT (please log in no later than 10:55 a.m.) for the fifth of eight, no-cost monthly Employee Engagement webinars. I’ll be hosting this month’s session entitled:  “Engaging a Remote Workforce.”

This Employee Engagement series is based on extensive research and is consistent with OPM’s Strategic Goal of providing leadership to help agencies create a fully engaged and energized workforce. If you are a Federal employee responsible for implementing employee engagement initiatives, or just interested in current employee engagement research, best practices, and impact measures, then this webinar is for you.

To register, please visit the OPM Webinar Series page.

In case you can’t make it, I’d like to share the top two things you can do to help engage your remote workforce:

Communication tools

  • If your agency allows telework, don’t hesitate to use the full suite of communication tools. Go beyond the phone and email to get and stay connected with your employees.
  • Not all IT tools are as useful to some of us as others. But it is important to analyze your team of teleworkers see if there is any technology that would help your team communicate more- or more effectively. If you see a tool that you think would benefit their communication in the telework environment, try creating a business case to get permission to use it.

Structure your communications

  • Establish regular meetings.
  • At team meetings, talk about more than just work. For example, on my team, we have the question of the week and each week a different team member picks it. We’ve had questions ranging from where would you take your next road trip, to book club book recommendations to if you had to get a tattoo what would it be. This helps the team to get to know each other better, even though they are not sitting in the same office. Anything we can do increase that personal connection helps make our remote workforce feel even more a part of the team and even more effective.

If you’re able to join us on the 16th, I’ll share strategies to make these happen and even more tips.

As always, please keep an eye on OPM’s Webinar Series page for opportunities to engage with our experts on a variety of topics to help in your work: OPM Webinar Series page.


Infographic which reads: Beat the Heat, stay cool - stay hydrated, stay informed

Summer is a great time for beach getaways, barbecues in the backyard, and other outdoor activities that we long for during the cold, winter months.

But it’s also a time when severe heat and humidity – like we’ve seen during this summer season – make it necessary for us all to take precautions to protect ourselves and our family’s health and well-being.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have teamed up to remind all of us, including agencies and employees across government about what they can do to protect all Federal workers during potentially dangerous heat waves.

Regardless of where we work, we can all follow some basic common-sense practices as outlined on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible; wear lightweight, light-colored clothing; drink more water than usual, and check for extreme heat alerts.

It’s also important to remember that for Federal employees, OPM’s workplace flexibilities that may be used to reduce health risks during such extreme heat periods. If your supervisor approves, telework-ready employees may telework from home on a day when air quality conditions are poor. If your agency policies allow, an employee working a flexible work schedule may elect to adjust when they come to work and when they leave in order to avoid commuting during the hottest period of the day. Employees can also ask for annual leave, earned compensatory time or credit hours on a day when severe heat and humidity are threatening their health and welfare.

OPM has issued a memorandum to Chief Human Capital Officers across government outlining these flexibilities and including some Federal Government websites that offer more tips on how to handle severe heat and humidity conditions.

I know that all Federal employees are dedicated and committed to doing all they can to serve the American people. At the same time, we all must be mindful of protecting our health during severe weather events - whether cold and storm during winter or the kind of high temperatures and humidity we’ve been experiencing this summer.


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