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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 11, 2005
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Acting Director Blair Provides Briefing on Important, New Recruitment and Retention Flexibilities to Help Agencies Staff Critical Positions

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Dan G. Blair convened a meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council for a briefing on new workplace flexibilities that will help agencies recruit and retain critical-position or in-demand employees.

The flexibilities discussed at this week's meeting relate to the use and amount of bonuses that soon will become available to agencies to recruit and retain critical-position or in-demand employees.

Council members also heard from the head of a non-profit organization that will conduct a survey of federal employees and managers aimed at promoting public service as an important career option for engineers, scientists and other in-demand occupations.

Blair, who chairs the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, said passage of the Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 was as a major victory for the President's Management Agenda (PMA). In part, the PMA calls for adding workplace flexibilities to an existing core of authorities that can be used to help recruit and retain people with 21st century skills needed by federal agencies. Several key authorities of the law take effect May 1, 2005, including those that expand the pool of employees eligible for bonuses and the circumstances under which bonuses can be paid.

For example, the new law permits agencies to pay a retention bonus to a current employee who possesses extremely high qualifications and is likely to move to another position elsewhere in the federal government. Current law does not allow bonuses based on inter-agency movement.

In addition, the law increases the limits on the amounts agencies can pay in bonuses. Agencies will be able to pay exceptional recruits bonuses up to 100 percent of

their starting salary. Retention allowances also can increase to 50 percent of an employee's salary.

Blair invited Max Stier to the meeting to discuss an impending survey that will rank agencies based on the workplace perceptions of federal managers and employees. Stier is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington-based, not-for-profit Partnership for Public Service.

"Max has taken a lead role in explaining the value of public service to the American public," said Blair, adding that Stier has earned respect within the political and federal communities alike. "Max speaks with an objective voice, and he will have employees, legislators and job seekers eagerly awaiting the survey's findings."

Stier said the survey will rank agencies, while providing data and employee feedback for use in building future recruitment campaigns to attract highly qualified employees.

"It's important to build constituencies of support for public service," said

Stier. "The interest in government work is larger now that it has been in quite some time."

Members of the CHCO Council also listened to a presentation about OPM's free, subscription-based e-mail service that automatically alerts subscribers to federal office closures in the Washington area. Information is relayed automatically to subscribers of the service when OPM announces area-wide closings resulting from weather conditions, emergencies, or other situations.

The alert system already has more than 11,000 federal subscribers, among them key government officials and rank-and-file employees who have a need for immediate notification of changes to regular operations. Council members were urged to push for additional subscriberships among key personnel. Registration for the alert system can be made at www.opm.gov/status/subscribe.aspx.

"This system is extremely useful in getting out the word quickly and accurately if a weather situation or emergency event requires OPM to change the status of government in the Washington area," said Blair. "It is a pro-active approach designed to help those who need to know the minute a decision is announced."

By law, Chief Human Capital Officers lead their agencies in forming and shaping federal HR policies and programs that involve the selection, development and ongoing enrichment of employees who work for America's taxpayers. CHCO Council members also communicate best-practices between agencies.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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