The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the federal government. OPM provides human resources leadership and support to federal agencies and helps the federal workforce achieve their aspirations as they serve the American people. OPM directs human resources and employee management services, administers retirement benefits, manages health insurance and other insurance benefit programs, and oversees merit-based and inclusive hiring into the civil service. The agency also promotes the efficiency and integrity of government services through personnel vetting policies and processes for a trusted workforce.
OPM's divisions, offices, and their employees implement the programs and deliver the services that enable the agency to meet its strategic goals, and also enable other agencies to meet their strategic goals. OPM works in several broad categories to lead and serve the federal government in enterprise human resource management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted effective civilian workforce. These categories include Human Capital Management Leadership, Benefits, and Personnel Vetting.
Human Capital Management Leadership
OPM interprets and enforces governing law and provides policy direction and leadership in designing, developing, and promulgating government-wide human capital systems, programs, and policies that support the current and emerging needs of federal agencies. In addition, the agency provides technical support and guidance to agencies on the full range of human capital management policies and practices, including recruitment, hiring policy and classification, veterans' employment, strategic workforce planning, pay, leave, performance management and recognition, leadership and employee development, diversity and inclusion, work/life/wellness programs, accountability, labor and employee relations, and the Administrative Law Judges Program. OPM's leadership in these areas enables the federal government to anticipate drivers that will influence and impact the federal workforce. OPM also reviews agency requests to exercise certain government-wide personnel management authorities that are centrally administered or subject to OPM approval under law and oversees the implementation of key Administration priorities and goals concerning government-wide human capital management matters.
OPM provides customized human capital services and training to federal agencies to help maximize their organizational and individual performance and to drive their mission results. Utilizing the agency's internal human capital experts, shared service providers within government, and/or government contractors, OPM's human resources solutions help agencies design effective organizations, recruit and hire top talent, develop and cultivate leaders, build federal human resource professional capability, improve the performance management process, and achieve long-lasting human capital results.
OPM provides agencies with access to pre-competed private sector contractors through a unique partnership between OPM and the General Services Administration (GSA) as part of the government-wide Category Management effort. The private contractors, comprised of large and small companies, complement OPM's internal capabilities in the areas of training and development, human capital management, and organizational performance improvement. OPM's involvement facilitates the delivery of services that are both effective and compliant with operative civil service law.
OPM provides a leadership development continuum that enables federal executives, managers, and aspiring leaders to acquire knowledge and master skills so they can lead within a rapidly changing government environment. Anchored by the Federal Executive Institute, OPM's leadership development infrastructure and programs also include the Presidential Management Fellows Program, the Federal HR Institute, the Process and Performance Improvement program, the Lab at OPM (human centered design), and USALearning.
OPM generates government-wide benefits through Human Resources Information Technology consolidation, standardization, and modernization. OPM offers federal systems such as Enterprise Human Resource Integration, USA Learning®, USA Staffing®, USA Hire℠, and USA Performance®. OPM is also developing the necessary information technology infrastructure to facilitate the exchange of human resources data and information government-wide, as appropriate. In addition, OPM leads the government-wide transformation of human resources information technology by focusing on modernization, integration, and performance assessment.
OPM maintains USAJOBS®, the official job site of the federal government. It is the one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information by which, among other things, federal agencies meet the legal obligations to provide public notice of federal employment opportunities to federal employees and American citizens. The USAJOBS website is the portal for federal recruitment for most government positions, whether the positions are in the competitive or excepted service.
Through OPM's oversight evaluation work, special studies, and collaboration with agencies, OPM assesses whether federal human resources programs and human capital management systems are effective and consistent with merit system principles and related civil service requirements. OPM works directly with agencies to make improvements or changes to programs that are ineffective, inefficient, or not in compliance with federal law to help them achieve compliance and mission objectives. OPM also adjudicates classification appeals, job grading appeals, Fair Labor Standards Act claims, compensation and leave claims, and declination of reasonable` appeals, which provide federal employees with procedural rights to challenge compensation and related agency decisions.
Benefits for Federal Employees and Annuitants
OPM facilitates access to the high-caliber healthcare and insurance programs offered by the federal government. This includes health insurance, dental and vision insurance, flexible spending accounts, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. OPM manages insurance benefits for more than eight million federal employees, retirees, and their families, employees of tribes or tribal organizations, and other eligible persons.
In 2019, OPM also began offering dental and vision plans to individuals who are eligible as military retirees and their families, members of the Retired Reserve, non-active Medal of Honor recipients, or survivors and family members of active-duty service members.
These high-quality benefits make federal employment more attractive, enabling agencies to compete for good candidates with other potential employers.
OPM is responsible for the administration of the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System covering 2.8 million active employees, including the United States Postal Service, and nearly 2.7 million annuitants, survivors, and family members. OPM also administers, develops, and provides federal employees, retirees, and their families with benefits programs and services that offer choice, value, and quality to help maintain the government's position as a competitive employer. Activities include record maintenance and service credit accounts prior to retirement; initial eligibility determinations at retirement; adjudication of annuity benefits based on age and service, disability, or death based on a myriad of statutes and regulations; post-retirement changes due to numerous life events; health and life insurance enrollments; federal and state tax deductions; as well as other payroll functions.
OPM is responsible for prescribing suitability, fitness, and credentialing standards for government employees and contractors. It works closely with the Director of National Intelligence to determine investigative standards. The agency issues guidelines and instructions to the heads of other agencies to promote uniformity and effectiveness when executing their delegated responsibilities, and OPM conducts oversight of agencies' programs and processes in this area, including oversight of suitability and credentialing investigations. OPM retains jurisdiction of suitability adjudications in circumstances where a government-wide bar of an individual from federal service is necessary to promote efficiency and protect the integrity of the civil service. The agency also provides government-wide training for adjudicators that conforms to government-wide training standards.