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Open Government Blog


At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) we are using this tool to reach out to our stakeholders in a new way. We want to hear from you about how we can better serve you, whether you’re a member of the general public, an advocate for good government, or an employee of OPM or another agency. Please comment here on our Open Government Plan and help us with new, concrete ideas on how to make OPM better. Please visit us here and at often.

OPM welcomes comments and questions from the public. We respect the principle that people are entitled to different opinions and hope to foster conversation within our online presence. To that end, we do not premoderate users' comments on our website or social media pages. This means that users' comments are automatically published, but they may be removed by an OPM official if the comment:

  • Contains obscene, indecent, or profane language;
  • Contains threats, defamatory statements, or personal attacks;
  • Encourages illegal activity;
  • Contains hate speech directed at race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability;
  • Contains sensitive or personally identifiable information; and/or
  • Promotes or endorses specific commercial services or products

In addition, OPM may remove content, including comments, that has become stale. We also reserve the right to remove multiple successive off-topic posts by a single user, repetitive posts copied and pasted by multiple users, spam, or chain mail.

Note that the views expressed on this page, the appearance of external links posted by individuals on this page, and following, liking, or reposting of posts or tweets does not constitute official endorsement on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management or the Federal Government. OPM is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from any comments posted on this page. This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, complaint, legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

Posted 10:50 AM by

On October 13, 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law. This Act requires all Federal agencies to write most documents in plain language and requires all new covered documents to be written in plain language beginning October 13th.

As you know, plain language is communicating with your audience so they understand what you're saying the first time they read or hear it. It's worth remembering that language that is "plain" to one set of readers may not be plain to others. So keeping in mind who your audience is will help immeasurably.

Written material is in plain language if your audience can easily:

  • Find what they need;
  • Understand what they find; and
  • Use what they find to meet their needs.

What kind of documents should be written in plain language? Any document that (1) is necessary for obtaining any Federal Government benefit or service or filing taxes, (2) provides information about any Federal Government benefit or service, or (3) explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces. This includes (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction and does not include regulations.

Want to learn more? Online plain language training is available from the National Institutes of Health at You don’t have to login, just click Browse to get started.

If you have any questions, please visit our Plain Language site or feel free to leave us a comment here.

IT is a critical component of OPM’s ability to supply the Federal Government with the most talented, highest performing workforce available.  We maintain important websites such as, administer benefits for millions of federal employees, and provide critical HR support for every federal agency.  Each of these tasks is information intensive, thus OPM’s implementation of the 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management.  My staff and I are working tirelessly to implement these important reforms.

OPM has a unique role in the larger IT Reform agenda in our creation of an IT Program Management career path.  Over the past six months we have worked on a tight time frame to establish this new career track for our high-performing program managers.  We have published the classification title for IT program managers, researched the need for direct hire authority for IT program managers, and are in the process of developing an IT program manager competency model.  As CIO, I am extremely proud of the work that my team has accomplished in this initiative and feel that this new career track will have a dramatic affect on the performance of IT programs across the Federal Government for the foreseeable future.  

A major goal of our agency is to move more processes to shared services or cloud platforms.  This centralization will lead to both cost savings and improved performance.  We have already begun to move the majority of our web services, including, to cloud-based platforms.  We are also moving our document management to the cloud, which will allow OPM employees to share information much more efficiently.  We expect that these changes alone will save the agency over $200k per year.  This “Cloud First” philosophy is central to our department’s strategic plan for federal IT which includes our goal to reduce our Operations and Management expenditures by 10% per year over the next three years.

We held our first departmental Tech Stat session on March 30th, where we evaluated our Health Claims Data Warehouse.  We identified several key management and communications issues that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the system’s continued success.  We established a plan for improved governance of the program by establishing stronger communication channels between key stakeholders and with the Executive Steering Committee.  Further, we expect to avoid significant future costs as a result of these improvements.  As we go forward, the TechStat process will continue to be a vital component of our IT Management plan.

As we continue to implementation the IT Reform plan, I am encouraged by the remarkable progress I see here at OPM and across the entire government.  This progress and the resulting best practices are both positive signs for the future of IT Reform.  While there are challenges ahead, the ambitious goals set forth both in the plan and by our agency will push us to achieve results as we work to recruit the next generation of talented, dynamic federal employees.

Matthew E. Perry is the Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his plan to create a 21st-century regulatory system that is simpler and smarter and that protects the interests of the American people in a pragmatic and cost-effective way.  As a key part of that plan, he called for an unprecedented government-wide review of rules already on the books in order to remove those that are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome, or in conflict with other rules. As a result of that review, agencies have identified initiatives with the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens, and billions of dollars in regulatory costs.

Following the President's lead, OPM has adopted an aggressive plan to review its own regulations.  OPM's review process will build on our existing culture of transparency and outreach to stakeholders by publishing a notice on March 1 of each year that solicits recommendations from the public regarding which regulations it should subject to review.   Then, no later than September 1 of each year, OPM will publish on its Open OPM website its list of priorities for retrospective review for the next fiscal year. OPM will identify no fewer than four  regulations for retrospective review each year.  If, as a result of its review, OPM decides to revise or eliminate any regulations, it will explain the basis for its decision in the Federal Register notice proposing the revision or elimination of the regulation.

In order to jump start the review process, OPM is also announcing today its plan to examine several major regulations over the next year. As discussed in our plan, this review will help provide for a more transparent and refined calculation of the reimbursement rates for HMOs participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; take advantage of new technology to improve and streamline retirement processing and customer service; reduce burdensome and ineffective reporting by agencies on human resources systems and metrics; and to create a more streamlined, transparent process for bringing interns into the Federal Government.

OPM is now seeking comment on its preliminary plan.  The public is encouraged to submit comment through our website by filling out the form below.  To maximize the benefits of public input, comments that are submitted will be viewable by other members of the public (after any personal identifying information is removed).

The President's new initiative for ongoing retrospective review of agency regulations presents an exciting opportunity for OPM and its stakeholders.  By regularizing the process of such review, and providing for stakeholder input, we expect to reap increased efficiencies, cost savings, and greater flexibilities.  I hope you will join OPM in this process, by commenting on our preliminary plan and participating actively in our annual call for recommendations of regulatory provisions for review.

View OPM's Preliminary Plan on Agency Review of Regulations PDF file [102 KB]

For more information, please visit The White House Regulation Reform website.

Director John Berry proclaimed in his letter introducing OPM’s Open Government Plan: “We are very excited about engaging further with our stakeholders – employees, unions, the public, academia, other agencies, and non-profit organizations – to create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative Government.”

It has been one year since the White House released the Open Government Directive, part of a larger initiative to improve Government services through transparency, public participation and collaborations. Through OPM’s Open Government Plan, we have honored the commitment to our stakeholders by making more information available to and usable by the public. We are engaging OPM employees, along with external stakeholders, in more collaborative and transparent ways to solve complex, agency-wide dilemmas through clearly defining the problem, generating creative ideas, and  recommending new solutions to the OPM Executive Board.

 Here are some of the highlights we have accomplished thus far:

  • OPM was ranked among the top-five agencies in’s first assessment of Open Government plans throughout the Executive Branch.
  • We received a Leading Practices Award from the White House for our Flagship initiative to bring knowledge management and collaborative technologies to OPM.
  • We formed a governance structure with representation from throughout OPM and from external stakeholders. Participants from field offices and the union have played vital roles as members of our six Open Government teams. This structure has allowed us to use an inductive approach and incorporate ideas from other agencies, academia, and non-profit institutions by working together across internal and external boundaries. In this way, we collaborate to make meaningful change at OPM.
  • In July the Open Government Team launched a centralized depository of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which is a dynamic method to respond to stakeholder questions, while allowing our employees to post responses to the web in real time. This allows OPM to communicate our various program messages and even become proactive with our announcements to the public. The depository of questions and answers is, in essence, a topical dictionary of interesting mission-related facts. Users are required to search the data base, which has artificial intelligence functionality; it also allows email inquiries. If used properly, the depository’s responses will expand, giving our stakeholders an opportunity for better “self service” before requesting assistance with commonly asked questions. The site is located at
  • We instituted IdeaFactory in January. This is a crowd-sourcing tool created using open source code provided by Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This tool promotes the sharing of ideas to improve agency processes and saves money by listening to staff suggestions in a purposeful way. This tool leverages the power of inter-agency collaboration at its Contracting and Acquisition best, because the code can be shared federal government-wide sparing unnecessary start-up costs for sharing applications.
  • The Open Government team submitted a Communication and Collaboration plan to insure the conversation about openness principles and create opportunities for collaboration across the agency as well as to provide avenues for continued participation and collaboration with our stakeholders externally.
  • OPM hosted 75 guests in an Open Government summit sponsored by the Open Forum Foundation in mid February. The purpose of the event was to stimulate and document new thinking in the area of transparency and creating an open culture. The summit was structured as a Focus Forum; a collaborative event that fostered innovative thinking and solutions on the topic of openness.  OPM was  joined by other Federal agencies, academia, non-profit organizations and union membership to explore the benefits of taking ownership of transparency and ‘baking it’ into the work we do in our respective organizations, thereby creating a sustainable culture of openness. The summit provided an opportunity for participants to engage in collaborative discussions about Open Government best-practices, challenges, and innovations that span multiple agencies.  The collective knowledge gained from the discussions will be used to develop an inter-agency Guide to Owning Transparency, which will be made available for use by all agencies. This information will assist agencies in taking concrete steps toward developing strategies to enable transparency, as subscribed in the White House Open Government Directive issued December 8, 2009.
  • We have taken some major steps toward providing proactive disclosure of our Executive and Managerial point of contacts on the web using an organizational tree approach. Phase II enhancements will move the tool from an informational to a collaborative experience for our external stakeholders by using a topical integration of our organizations with our Searchable Frequently Asked Questions tool. This tool will field questions and provide contact information as needed.
  • Lastly, in collaboration with our union, OPM has focused on an initiative to establish an agency-wide learning and career center. The purpose of this center is to promote and value continuous learning and development agency-wide as well as to develop an open, knowledge creation and sharing culture. This cultural change is also fostered by the start of a Pilot Mentoring program in March with 78 participants. The agency-wide program is scheduled to begin in mid summer.

 We are moving forward with implementing the rest of OPM’s Open Government Plan by focusing on ways in which we can build a culture that truly values openness - collaboration, participation and transparency -  and learn how it can help us better do our jobs and fulfill our mission to recruit, retain, and honor a world-class workforce to serve the American people.

 Visit the Open OPM blog at for the latest Open Government news and events. 

Sunshine Week is “a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” OPM has taken the challenge of Open Government and committed itself to becoming a model of openness and transparency. Director John Berry noted in his letter introducing our Open Government Plan, at the United States Office of Personnel Management “We are very excited about engaging further with our stakeholders – employees, unions, the public, academia, other agencies, and non-profit organizations – to create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative Government”.

The notion of Openness is built in to our strategic plan and our organizational values, which link directly to our mission:  “Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People.” FY10 saw OPM make good progress in creating an environment of “openness”, by making improvements toward proactive disclosure, and effectively responding to FOIA requests.  You can read more in our 2010 Freedom of Information Act Report.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Open Government Team hosted 75 guests in an Open Government summit sponsored by the Open Forum Foundation on Friday, February 18, 2011.  The purpose of the event was to stimulate and document new thinking in the area of transparency. The summit was structured as a Focus Forum; a collaborative event that fostered innovative thinking and solutions on the topic of openness.  OPM, joined by other Federal agencies, academia, non-profit organizations and unions explored the benefits of taking ownership of transparency.

The summit provided an opportunity for participants to engage in collaborative discussions about Open Government best-practices, challenges, and innovations that span multiple agencies.  The collective knowledge gained from the discussions will be used to develop an inter-agency Guide to Owning Transparency that will be made available for use by all agencies. This information will assist agencies in taking concrete steps towards developing strategies to enable transparency, as subscribed in the White House Open Government Directive issued on December 8, 2009.  

We want to thank those that have shown interest in the non-reimbursable OPM Open Government detail. The application phase has now ended. We have reviewed resumes and statement of interest from a diverse group of highly skilled people, and will set a time in the comming week to further discuss the details with a selected group of candidates.

Below is a special invite for you to attend the Open Government Summit hosted by OPM on February 18, 2011 in Room 1350.  We will kick off the session at 8:30 a.m. and the remainder of the morning will include breakout sessions with various folks across OPM, other agencies and private sector. We hope to share information about the OPM Open Government effort as well as learn best practices from other agencies and some external stakeholders. We have limited seating in Room 1350 so please respond to the invite below as soon as possible.


Look forward to seeing you at the session.

We are pleased to announce a detail opportunity for Federal employees to work in Open Government at OPM. Please note that this is a non-reimbursable position:

Position: Program Analyst
Location: Washington, D.C.
Duration: 4-6 months (non-reimbursable)


On December 8, 2009, the White House issued a memorandum, the Open Government Directive, requiring federal agencies to take immediate, specific steps to achieve key milestones in transparency, participation, and collaboration.

OPM's Open Government Web site is called OpenOPM. On April 7, OPM posted its Open Government Plan on OpenOPM, and both employees and the public are invited to comment on the Plan. Besides data sources, OpenOPM provides links to Open Government news at the Agency and contact information for the Agency Open Government champions, Chief Information Officer Matthew Perry and Associate Chief Financial Officer Rochelle Bayard.

Creation of a knowledge management (KM) system is the "Flagship" Initiative of this plan, and its purpose is to provide the infrastructure and tools for OPM to increase transparency, widen participation, and foster collaboration both internally and externally. We seek greater and more varied participation to integrate feedback and fresh ideas into our policies and business processes. These modifications to our business processes will help us improve service and efficiency; they form part of our continuous self-improvement.

Description of Responsibilities

In the role of Presenter, the selectee will lead a team using Action Learning Techniques to provide needed research to create and integrate the existing OPM system infrastructure into a workable knowledge management system. This selectee's responsibilities will include but not be limited to the following:

  • Establishing meeting agenda, recording decisions, and preparing all documents for Flagship Team distribution;
  • Assigning action items, communicating timelines for the Flagship Team, and tracking them to completion;
  • Centralizing all external communication channels for feedback to and receipt of fresh ideas from stakeholder groups to the CORE TEAM;
  • Centralizing agency responses by providing the public with a consistent "One OPM Voice";
  • Providing transparency of data so that knowledge transfer can occur among the various stakeholders;
  • Administrating customer feedback on questions and internal responses to make our KM robust and responsive;
  • Incorporating ideas expressed by members of the public into the current OPM Open Government Plan in response to news articles, agency blogs, and other media; and
  • Exploring social media tools and sites for their potential to bring new and varied stakeholders to the table.

Point of Contact

Dr. Mary Volz-Peacock



Learn More

If you would like to learn more about the OpenOPM initiative, visit

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