Four years ago, President Obama signed an Executive Order stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities into the Federal government. He set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than halfway toward reaching that milestone.
OPM’s latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the Federal government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years. In fiscal year 2013, 18 percent of new Federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal 2012. In the first three years of enacting the E.O., we have hired a total of 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities. Because of the hard work and dedication of Federal employees and the disability community, we have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal.
One of the things I love best about being Director of OPM is that I get to meet some of the dedicated and amazingly talented people who are devoting their lives to public service.
Let me tell you about Cynthia Hamilton, who works here at OPM. Cynthia came to us as an intern during her senior year at Gallaudet University, where she was finishing her degree in business management. When she graduated, Cynthia was able to move right into a full-time job as a human resources specialist. But she wasn’t sure whether the Federal government would accommodate her needs. Not only is Cynthia doing a great job, some of her colleagues at OPM have taken American Sign Language classes. She now wants to become a manager and let others who are deaf and hard of hearing know what’s possible in Federal service. And she wants to see more people with disabilities get hired. So do I.
We need and we will hire more people like Cynthia, and we know we still have so much work to do. Our commitment to hiring, developing, and retaining more people with disabilities is not just about the numbers. It’s about making sure that we have a rich diversity of thought, of expertise, of experience, and of perspective throughout the government.
As OPM Director, I am committed to making sure that the Federal government is a model employer. And that means our workforce must reflect the rich mosaic of the American people we serve.
I’m proud of the progress we have made. Stay tuned. There is more to come.
A funny thing happens when you’re 22. You dream big. You work hard. You charge forward. But you are not so sure where you are going.
At 22, I had just graduated from college and had started teaching Pre-K in an inner city school in Denver. My ambition was to be a great teacher. I thought that would define my success. That was my plan, or so I thought. What I didn’t realize then was, there would be many, many more turns in the road.
I soon figured out that each year brings another set of experiences and growth. And each experience, each opportunity to learn, exponentially broadens the possibilities of who you can be. In reality, it takes a great deal of strength to move past who you are in the moment to who you can be in the future. And often that means just being willing to take a risk and follow your passion. It was taking risks and following my passion for public service that led me from the classroom to community service to government leadership.
It turns out that what I had imagined for myself at age 22 wasn’t exactly the right plan. But looking back, I realize that even though my career plan changed – and more than once -- there was one principle that remained constant through the years, one principle that served me well on my journey: You can’t be afraid. You can’t be afraid of a new experience. You can’t be afraid of a challenge. You can’t be afraid of failure.
At some point in our careers, we all face those moments of deep reflection and decision. I just knew that I had to keep trying new things, that I had to keep moving forward. And I knew that if one turn in the road didn’t work out, at least I would have had an interesting and perhaps valuable experience.
Not that long ago, I had a conversation with my daughter Graciela, who is in her 20s. She asked me: “Don’t I need to start thinking about the future and where I am going with my career?” I told her that perhaps she should be thinking about the next two to three years, not the next 20 or 30. In two or three or five years, everything might be different. Go ahead and make a plan, I told her, just be willing to change it when you need to or want to.
You don’t have to plan the rest of your life at 22. You don’t need to limit yourself. Try new things and don’t be afraid. Like I discovered, you never quite know where your potential, your talent, and most of all, your passion will take you.
Today’s day-after-Thanksgiving sales kick off the holiday shopping season. But today isn’t just about shopping for the softest sweater or the hottest new toy. It’s also a great time to shop for the perfect health plan for you and your family.
With just about a week left in the Federal benefits open season, why not focus on determining whether your current plan is the best one for you. Ask yourself these questions: Do you have the right coverage for your family? Are there other options you should consider? Are you getting the best value?
I am proud to report that OPM’s Health Care and Insurance team recently earned national recognition for its efforts to improve the health of employees, retirees, family members, and newly insured Americans.
Our team’s efforts to deliver high quality, affordable health care have been recognized in two reports to Congress about quality and prevention. The National Strategy for Quality and Improvement in Health Care Annual Report highlights efforts that support OPM’s Healthier Americans strategic goal. The National Prevention Council’s Annual Status Report features OPM initiatives to expand insurance coverage for Tribal employees, provide Employee Assistance Program resources to our Federal workers, and reinforce preventive services like timely flu shots.
We work closely with our Federal Employees Health Benefits and Multi-State Plan Program health insurance carriers to help achieve these results.
I’m also pleased to share that we've seen more FEHB plans achieve “Most Improved” and “Exemplary” status each year since we started tracking scores for health care quality. These scores demonstrate how well plans deliver care for such common conditions as diabetes and high blood pressure, and how effectively they screen for health risks.
What does this news mean for you and your family? Many people don’t know that having good quality health coverage means they may be able to prevent or better care for chronic diseases. Sadly, high blood pressure contributes to approximately 1,000 deaths every day and at least 25 percent of people with diabetes don’t know they have it. Better screening and control save lives. Preventing chronic diseases helps us stay healthy, active, productive, and connected to those who depend on us. So your plan’s performance matters. Check out OPM’s Quality Scores page for your plan’s rating.
Health needs change from year to year and it’s important to make sure your plan is still the best one for you and your family. Take a look at our FEHB Open Season page for key information and answers to your questions.
Nothing is more important than your and your family’s health. Take some time this Black Friday and over the weekend to review your plan and consider whether it’s time for a change. And, don’t forget, open season ends December 8.
As we head into the busy holiday season, I want to take a moment to thank my OPM family and the entire Federal workforce for your incredible work, passion, and dedication to serving the American people.
I am very thankful that in my first year as Director of OPM, I have been able to meet so many of you across the country and see firsthand the work you do. The commitment you all have to the missions of your agencies is plain to see. Here at OPM, I see that passion and drive every day, and I am incredibly thankful for the best team I could have possibly asked for. I especially want to recognize those families who are apart from their loved ones this year. So many public servants and military service members will spend this holiday season far away from home. We honor and appreciate their sacrifices and look forward to their safe return home.
And I wish a safe journey to all of you who will be traveling over the holiday. As for me, I will be at home in Colorado with my husband and our daughter, Graciela, celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. I will be thinking about how thankful I am to be able to work with all of you on making Federal service the best it can be.
One of our greatest challenges at OPM is to help agencies grow and develop our Federal leaders of the future. That is why I convened a series of Thought Leader talks this fall, and I’m pleased to report that the three sessions provided us with new information, inspiration, and vision to guide OPM in meeting that challenge.
The sessions brought together leaders from government, business, academia and global organizations to talk about the future of leadership and how we can address challenges and opportunities. We focused on millennials because we know that they are the future of the American workforce, as well as innovative new practices around leadership development, assessment and engagement. And while we have to think about the leaders of today and those who will come after them, we must also plan for tomorrow.
We also talked about how work may take many new forms in the coming years. In our first session, we discussed how email could be replaced by new forms of communication. We talked about working more virtually. If the current move toward telework continues, virtual work will increase, with some employees never stepping foot in a traditional office.
We are already starting to use new technologies to be more strategic in our recruiting. Many organizations, including the U.S. Army, are turning to a new type of assessment for applicants. Instead of just analyzing resumes, managers are using a situation-based simulation that allow them to assess an applicant’s choices and skills. It’s one of the most innovative and useful tools I’ve seen in the recruiting realm.
Most importantly, we examined leadership. We discussed how we need to look at leadership differently. Leaders must be outcome-driven to be successful. That includes judging those who work for us on what they do well rather than on what they do poorly. Marcus Buckingham, a noted business consultant and thinker, led an impressive discussion on his strategy of emphasizing employee strengths for assessment of performance management and engagement. Marcus talked about the value of focusing on coaching to help employees succeed in their jobs and grow in their careers. It’s a different way of thinking, and it is one of the discussions that made the biggest impact on me.
Each one of these sessions inspired my thinking about how I will help managers across government grow and develop our talented and hard-working Federal workforce. We already have begun work on several initiatives to strengthen our leadership pipeline, including a Senior Executive Service mentoring program, a coaching network, and a special onboarding web page for new members of the SES.
I look forward to convening more sessions in the future. The dialogue we fostered was meaningful for every member of the group. And we helped each other bring our own worlds closer together. We are all determined to recruit, develop, and retain the leaders of tomorrow.
One of the Chief Human Capital Officers attending the sessions summed it up best. As we were leaving Tuesday’s final talk, she told me that the Thought Leader talks were the most important set of professional discussions she had ever been a part of.
I totally agree.
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