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As we celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends, I’d like to take this opportunity to pause and remember those who have fallen in service to their country. During my 33 years in the United States Navy, I lost friends and comrades. So this day serves as a special reminder to me that we honor their memories through our own service to our country.
Each year on Veterans Day, we pay tribute to all members of the military who have served. On Armed Services Day, we recognize all active duty members of the military. But Memorial Day is a time for us to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember the brave men and women, in and out of uniform, who gave their lives to preserve our liberty.
Simply remembering, however, is not enough. Words and thoughts mean nothing if they are not accompanied by actions. Three actions all of us can take immediately come to my mind: Honoring the fallen, caring for our wounded brothers and sisters, and safeguarding their families.
I always make sure to visit national cemeteries around Memorial Day. This year, I will pay my respects at Arlington National Cemetery. But one of my most profound Memorial Day memories is taking the sons of a fallen solider to their father’s gravesite. Their father, someone I was privileged to mentor, was killed in an aircraft accident. He would be proud to know that his sons are both now pursuing higher education, and that his older son is following in his father’s footsteps as a midshipman student at the Naval Academy.
As a member of the Armed Services, people often thank me for my service. But those who deserve the highest gratitude are those who have given the full measure of their lives for our country. I hope that this Memorial Day, you will join me in honoring their sacrifice.
Admiral Earl Gay is a Senior Advisor to the Director at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Our Federal workforce is talented, passionate, and creative. To harness this spirit of ingenuity, we created the Lab@OPM to help agencies translate the creativity of their employees into innovative action. A recent project with Food and Nutrition Services at the United States Department of Agriculture shows how the Lab@OPM can bring fresh ideas to life.
One of the many vital services that our Federal Government provides is the National School Lunch Program. Run by USDA, it gives healthy and low-cost or free meals to more than 30 million children each school day. USDA came to the lab with an important, but complex, question: “How can we make it easier for families to provide accurate information about eligibility for the free and reduced lunch program?”
The Lab@OPM was created in 2012 to assist Federal agencies in developing innovative solutions to just such complicated problems. These partnerships lead to new ideas about how the Federal Government can better deliver services and programs. At the heart of the lab’s work is human centered design, a process that looks at solving problems from the point of view of people who will be using a particular product or service.
To help USDA with its free and reduced lunch program, the OPM lab team worked with USDA representatives. They reviewed the rules of the program, interviewed school officials and families, brainstormed solutions, and redesigned the application. In keeping with the human centered design model, the new form was tested with families before it was approved by school officials.
The new lunch application is only one page long, and includes small but important changes, such as providing more space to write children’s full names and a simpler design. USDA launched the redesigned form last month. The agency hopes that families will find the application process easier, and that schools will find it more effective.
Caring for our nation’s children is one of our top priorities as a government. Making sure that each child has a nutritious, filling meal every day is one of the best ways we can set students up for success. I am proud that OPM is playing a role in carrying out this mission.
And all of us at OPM are thrilled to provide a space for agencies across government to innovate and share creative problem-solving skills. The Lab@OPM helped the USDA to determine that a new form was the best solution for its problem. Our lab team looks forward to working with many more agencies to help them come up with solutions for the unique situations they face.
Federal employees work each and every day to make our nation stronger and to better serve the needs of every American. It’s our job at OPM to support our workforce in these goals. I’m excited to watch as the Lab@OPM continues to play an important role in government innovation.
Photo Credit: CDC
I was honored to take part in a roundtable discussion with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders while visiting San Francisco this past week. As I mentioned earlier this month, AAPI Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the growing AAPI population in the United States.
As the AAPI Heritage Month theme of #APAEverywhere attests, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders live in every part of our country and work and lead in every industry, including the Federal Government. And we’re better for it.
From the day I was sworn in as Director of the Office of Personnel Management about 18 months ago, one of my top priorities has been to make sure that our Federal workforce draws from the rich diversity of every community we serve.
I want a diverse workforce at every level of government and at every decision-making table. While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent 6 percent of Federal employees, they represent only 3.4 percent of the Senior Executive Service, our top leadership corps. That’s up from 2.4 percent in 2008. But we must and we can do better.
One way we are already strengthening our AAPI leadership is through the Asian American Government Employee Network’s (AAGEN) SES leadership development program. A pipeline of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders is emerging from this mentorship and networking program. Today’s roundtable and gatherings like it help us to continue to spread the word about the opportunities in Federal service.
In order to attract an increasingly diverse, innovative, and multi-skilled workforce, I need to hear from people active in every community in America. I learn so much from the roundtables and other events I participate in. In turn, I share with those I meet the ways that America’s workforce can play a role in addressing the issues they care most about. And, I might just interest a few people in Federal service who may have never considered a Federal job. As word continues to spread about our commitment to the AAPI community, I hope that more individuals will consider Federal service.
During my visit to the West Coast this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the attendees of OPM’s Federal Internships and Career Expo in Seattle. This event was the first of its kind. I’m thrilled that OPM was able to co-host the expo with the Federal Executive Board and the University of Washington.
This day-long workshop was designed to showcase our Pathways program, which actually includes three programs: internships, jobs for recent graduates, and the Presidential Management Fellows. These employment tracks give young people an opportunity to try out Federal service. For many, Pathways leads to a permanent place in our workforce.
The expo included panels, presentations, and roundtable discussions as well as instructional sessions, such as how to write a Federal resume. We brought together Federal officials from 20 agencies and staff from more than a dozen colleges and universities. More than 100 students attended. We hope to partner with other Federal Executive Boards around the country to host similar events.
The Federal hiring process can seem complex. One of my priorities is to make sure that everyone who is interested in working for the Federal Government knows what their options are and gets the help they need to successfully apply for Federal positions.
Agencies are always looking for top talent, and Pathways is one way that we can bring passionate students and recent graduates, with fresh ideas and perspectives, into government.
And we’ve heard a great deal of positive feedback from our agencies about these programs. Every agency has a Pathways success story to share. Here at OPM, one of our recruiters for Pathways began as a Pathways intern.
A key aspect of my Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion – or REDI – Roadmap is building a world-class Federal workforce. Programs like Pathways help our hiring managers identify the best and brightest in our nation – and they show our newest hires what being a member of the Federal civil service is all about.
Being a Federal employee is about being a part of something bigger than you. It’s about working on behalf of our nation, and everyone in it. For me, as Director of OPM, this means striving to build a workforce that looks like the America we serve. Pathways can help us achieve that goal.
Real change in the workplace comes from the bottom up. Each employee has important feedback to give and now is the time for your voice to be heard.
The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey provides senior leaders and managers with data that shows what works well and what needs to be improved within each agency.
I know some Federal employees aren’t really sure why they should take the survey. Here are four things you should know about why it’s important to participate.
1. Your voice is important. The FEVS asks for your opinion on a wide range of topics, such as training, job satisfaction, performance appraisals, work-life programs, and management. Agencies use this valuable information to improve their organizations.
2. Your responses are confidential. Individual FEVS responses cannot be linked back to you. No one – not even your supervisor – will know how you answered. The reason we insist on confidentiality is, we need your candid and unfiltered feedback.
3. Your participation matters. The FEVS is sent to a sample of employees, so not every Federal worker gets a survey every year. If you received one this year, your participation is important and will serve as a crucial voice for employees like you. If you’re not sure if you received an invitation, look for an email from OPM.
4. You will have an impact. Leaders across the government pay close attention to FEVS scores. Thanks to new tools from OPM, including an online tool called Unlocktalent.gov, agency leaders can use the results in new and significant ways. With Unlocktalent.gov, they can slice and dice the data in ways that give them insights at every level of the agency, even individual offices.
I know you work hard to get the job done each and every day. You’re the expert in understanding what it’s like to work for your agency. So, tell us what’s working and what’s not. The survey is open until early June. Your responses will help us continue to build a world-class workforce that serves the needs of the American people.
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