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At OPM, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to provide meaningful training opportunities for the Federal workforce. When we decided to offer our first-ever Virtual HR Training Conference, the idea was to give employees a great opportunity for learning that was also affordable in today’s tight budgets.

I’m happy to report that this first virtual conference exceeded even my high expectations. More than 2,400 employees, representing 75 Federal agencies across the country, participated in the two-day event, co-sponsored by OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council in April.

And I’m not the only one who thinks the conference hit the mark.

“By all accounts, the OPM Virtual HR Conference was a smashing success!” said Gary Musicante, Director of Workplace Planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

On our conference evaluation form, an employee with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs said, “Why haven’t we done this sooner?”

We virtually transported nearly 60 experts to the computers and laptops of conference participants, taking advantage of the latest multimedia tools – videos and virtual panels and breakouts chats. That made our conference an unprecedented learning opportunity for the Federal HR community.

It cost only $95 for an individual to attend, demonstrating that high-quality employee training doesn’t have to be expensive or require travel. The government saved an estimated $4 million compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar conference for a like number of employees. And, employees who otherwise would have been denied a conference opportunity because of the travel costs were able to benefit.

As an added bonus, conference participants have access to the recorded sessions they missed – or just want to see again – for a full year.

This conference fulfills one of the key goals of OPM’s human capital management strategy – REDI. REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion. Participants had the chance to immerse themselves in a variety of HR strategies and to share agency success stories on topics such as performance management, leave, work-life flexibilities, engagement, diversity, and recruitment. 

An exciting element of the conference was bringing together program leaders and human capital experts. Thirty-nine percent of attendees were not HR professionals. Such partnerships are critical to our ability to solve management challenges across government.

We know effective training saves time and money.  That’s why OPM and the CHCO Council are dedicated to pursuing state-of-the-art, affordable learning experiences for all Federal employees.

I’m proud of OPM’s HR Solutions team for the hard work they put into making the 2015 HR Virtual Conference such a success. Stay tuned. This year’s conference was just the first. There are more exciting learning opportunities to come.



 


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

Admiral Earl Gay salutes in uniform.


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. 

Students stand in a lunchline grabbing oranges and sweet potato fries
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.

OPM Director Archuleta meets with members of the AAPI community in San Francisco.


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.

Back of the head of girl reading pathways flier.


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.


As one of my favorite weeks of the year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on how we honored our incredible Federal employees through Public Service Recognition Week. One of my goals as OPM Director is to make sure we recognize our Federal workforce each and every day. But it is especially important to set aside a week each year to thank our public servants for their dedication to the American people.

Every PSRW is unique and special, and this year was no exception. The week began with a Presidential Proclamation announcing the observance of PSRW. In his proclamation, the President reminds us that, “Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many. It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward. There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference.”

To acknowledge this opportunity, we launched the #HonorTheOath campaign. This collaboration with a group of Excellence in Government fellows invites Federal employees to reflect on the oath that they take on their first day on the job. I encourage you to visit opm.gov/oath to see how employees honor the oath of office each day through serving the American people.

Across the Federal Government, agencies took the time to thank and recognize their employees. Here at OPM, we had a fantastic week of celebrations. We cheered at the Washington Nationals “Salute to Public Service” game, focused on health and wellness with a nutrition seminar and fitness walk to the Washington monument, highlighted employee resources at an information fair, and hosted a mentoring roundtable. We also used social media to honor our Federal family, including Federal retirees, veterans who have transitioned to civil service, and Federal employees who have fallen while serving the American people.

I was especially delighted to present our OPM Director’s Awards at a special town hall. More than 600 employees were singled-out by their peers. Our winners remind me of how privileged I am to work with so many talented and passionate individuals.

Employee engagement is one of the foundations of the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – strategy that guides our work at OPM. Through events like PSRW, I want to make sure that our Federal workforce knows that their voices are heard and that their experiences matter. Each employee has an important role to play, and I embrace the challenge of helping workers rise to every opportunity.

One week is simply not enough time to fully celebrate the passion that Federal employees bring to their jobs, or the impact that they have on the lives of every American. I hope that PSRW is just the start of an ongoing conversation about the vital contributions of each member of America’s workforce.

Director Archuleta with Federal employees on Nationals field

Quote from Barack Obama stating 'I am committed ?to lifting up the outstanding work that is done every day and to fostering an environment where all our employees feel valued, engaged, and included.'

Federal service is public service. That’s easy to forget sometimes because so much of what Federal employees do goes on behind the scenes. But America’s workforce affects every American every day.

Each day, all across this country, many Americans are fortunate to wake up in a society where they have clean water to drink, safe food to eat, beautiful parks, affordable and quality health care, and a growing economy.

Providing these and countless other services to the American people requires a Federal workforce that is talented, well-trained, and engaged in the workplace, is led by executives who inspire and motivate, and draws from the rich diversity of the people it serves.

The President is committed to supporting the model Federal workforce. In his proclamation on Public Service Recognition Week, the President said:

“In the face of difficult challenges, public servants give new life to the values that bind our Nation together. Civil servants are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home. And despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration, and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it.

With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active duty service members, our Federal workforce represents extraordinary possibility. Our Government can and must be a force for good, and together, we can make sure our democracy works for all Americans. We know there are some things we do better when we join in common purpose, and with hard work and a commitment worthy of our Nation's potential, we can keep our country safe, guarantee basic security, and ensure everyone has a shot at success.“

We could not agree more. Federal service attracts people who are passionate about what they do. The mission of their agencies and their commitment to serving the American people are what drives them. And they come from – and work in – every corner of the country, reflecting the rich diversity and talent of this great country.

From the recent college graduate to the mid-career professional to the soon-to-be retiree, our employees are here to make a difference and to serve their country.

As we kick off Public Service Recognition Week, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on how America’s Federal workforce makes your life better each and every day.  And we hope you’ll join the President in recognizing the hard work and dedication of our nation’s public servants. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

 


Tonight is the Washington National’s “Salute to Public Service” game, and I’m excited to share the names of the five Federal employees I’ve asked to join me on the field when I throw out the first pitch.

For this year’s Public Service Recognition Week, OPM, with the support of a group of Excellence in Government fellows, decided to shine a light on something each and every employee does the first day on the job -- take the oath of office.

Being a Federal employee is about more than having a job. The #HonorTheOath campaign reminds us of the commitment each and every Federal employee makes when she or he begins a new job in the U.S. government.

Each of these individuals submitted a video explaining how they #HonorTheOath of office each day through serving the American people. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them on when the Washington Nationals play the Miami Marlins this evening.

Francisco Leija, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, joined the White House Fellow program and the Department of Homeland Security after bravely serving his country during many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He chose a life of public service to honor his parents, who immigrated to the United States seeking a better life for their family.

Margaret Miller Lenart is the recipient of multiple Director’s Awards at the Office of Personnel Management, where she works in Human Resources Solutions. She is passionate about helping other Federal agencies carry out their missions, recognizing that although she is “a little part in a big government…every day, [she helps] in a big way.”

Gail Morgado serves the Department of State in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Office of Overseas Operations. In the midst of working in South Sudan during their self-determination vote, Gail was thrilled to be able to return to Washington, D.C. to take her oath of office in the presence of her family.

Michael Odle is a Public Affairs Specialist for the National Indian Gaming Commission in the Department of the Interior. As both a member of the Federal civil service and the Armed Forces, Michael believes it is his duty to represent and serve the American people.

Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a researcher at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of the Treasury. Prior to joining the Bureau, she was part of a six-person crew that participated in a four-month-long Mars analog mission funded by NASA. She is excited to use her knowledge of science and technology to secure U.S. currency at home and abroad.

Simply put, the submissions from these devoted Federal employees inspired me. Their passion for their country, their stellar work ethic, and their pledge to the American people reminds me of why I am so fortunate to be the Director of OPM. If you have a story to share, I encourage you to participate at opm.gov/oath.

Let’s make PSRW a true celebration of America’s workforce. Thank you again to all of the women and men who make our country strong.

Director Archuleta practices her pitch for the Washington Nationals PSRW game.


I had the great privilege today of giving the commencement address at Miami Dade College for the Class of 2015.  These students worked hard to make it across that stage. Many of them held down jobs while they pursued their degrees; some of them were raising families as they carved out time for studying and homework -- all the while keeping alive their hopes for a better life than perhaps their parents have had.

As I shared my own experiences with these impressive graduates, I also thought about the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative this week. It encourages students to continue on to higher education, and I was reminded that the inspiring scene I witnessed in Florida today is still out of reach for so many.

I was once discouraged from attending college myself, by a high school guidance counselor who could not see past my ethnicity and my family’s modest circumstances to envision the future that my good grades and work ethic made possible for me. I didn’t know when I was just starting out as a young student in Colorado that someday I would be part of the President’s leadership team. But, I told the Miami Dade College graduates, I did know that I had more in me than what those who discouraged me to aim high believed.

I also urged them to be passionate about what they do and to let their passions guide them. I have had many jobs -- teacher, school administrator, chief of staff to a big-city mayor and to Cabinet secretaries, and now the human resources leader for the largest employer in the country. And in each and every one of these positions, I have followed my deep commitment to strengthening the role of women and of people of color in public service. That passion has been my true north, and I encouraged the graduates to find the passion that will guide them.

I reminded them that character matters. Throughout my life, I have chosen not to dwell on the people or circumstances that could hold me back. I chose to celebrate the school administrator who saw my potential, the Denver leaders who recognized my commitment to public service and social justice, and the President who sought out my leadership skills. It is those individuals whose character I wished to emulate. I shared with the graduates my own discovery that character is shaped not just by what you do, but by whom you stand with and how you treat others.

And finally, I told them that if they are strong of character, committed to their own success, and determined to face and overcome their fears, they will be on a path that leads to all they’ve dreamed of.

Director Archuleta stands on stage at Miami Dade College at Podium with additional people in background  


From Japan to India to Samoa, and from Indonesia to Hawaii, Asian American and Pacific Islanders represent the diversity and traditions that enrich our collective cultural and political heritage. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is APA Everywhere.

This year, the President is taking the unprecedented step of hosting a White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on May 12.  Attendees from across the country, including many Federal employees, will participate in a full day of programs on health, education, civil rights, immigration, and the arts. I share the President’s deep commitment to make sure we value the contributions of all our communities and that we build a Federal workforce that draws on the rich diversity of our great country.

The President demonstrates his commitment to inclusion by continuing to bring talented and innovative Asian-American leaders into the administration. Jane Chu is the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.  And Michelle Lee is the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  In addition to heading agencies, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are serving at all levels within the Federal workforce.

All of us in the Federal Government have a responsibility to recruit Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who can make important contributions to the essential work we do to keep America running. That’s why OPM is participating with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council in a Student Pathway Seminar and Career Fair on May 6. I want to make sure that we only not only have as many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders serving our country as possible, but that they have a seat at every decision-making table.

That’s what inclusion is all about.  We launched the REDI Roadmap this year so that we could develop an even more diverse and engaged workforce.  REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion.  Through REDI, we are determined to help applicants from every community in this great country successfully navigate the hiring process.

During the month of May, I encourage you to learn all you can about AAPI history.  At OPM, our Asian American and Pacific Islander American Employee Resource Group and other organizations across the Federal Government will be holding presentations, discussions, and other events during this month.

 As America’s workforce continues to become more diverse and more inclusive, this diversity of experience, perspectives, and talent will help us even more successfully serve the American people.



Child adoptions. Free mammograms.  Disaster relief. Food donations. 

These are just a few of the many efforts that are supported by the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) program because of the generosity of Federal employees. I am pleased and proud to announce that in 2014, Federal employees donated $193.2 million to charities around the world. The average gift from individuals also increased in size from $322 in 2013 to $340 in 2014.

One of the highlights of this year’s campaign was the introduction of universal giving. Employees were able to donate not just to the causes listed on their local CFC Charity Lists but to any of the 24,000 CFC organizations. The idea behind universal giving is to allow employees to donate to causes in their hometowns and other places they care about. After all, charitable giving is a very personal decision that comes from the heart, and the options for giving should reflect that. Universal giving especially helps military service members and civilian employees whose jobs take them overseas or to various posts around the country.

There are more exciting changes to the CFC on the way.  For the 2016 campaign, there will be a simplified e-giving option for all Federal employees and an online application system for charities. OPM is also streamlining the pledge processing system to reduce administrative costs.  We are also introducing educational programs that will allow employees to interact with charities and their beneficiaries to find out about how CFC contributions can make a real impact in people’s lives.

Federal employees have a passion for service, and not just on the job. Whether it’s giving money through the CFC or the time they devote to service projects, Federal employees are always there, serving their communities.

Thank you for continuing to make the CFC the world’s largest and most successful annual workplace giving campaign. You continue to make a real and meaningful difference. And your generous participation in the CFC is one of the many reasons that I am proud to be a leader of a public service workforce that is second to none.

CFC logo

Be prepared. That may sound like an overused slogan. But as OPM Director, it is my job to make sure that our Federal workforce is fully prepared to continue to serve the American people even during an emergency, whether it’s a man-made or a natural disaster.

That’s why I’m excited that OPM is once again a partner in America’s PrepareAthon National Day of Action. This campaign is designed to increase awareness among Americans about the need to be prepared for all emergencies. 

On April 30, communities, organizations, families, and individuals were encouraged to take steps to prepare for potential disasters. Some examples were conducting a drill, updating supplies, facilitating a group discussion, and holding a group exercise.  Awareness, conversation, and planning are the vital first steps in creating environments that can respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.

One of the reasons we have the Day of Action is to recognize that risks are not the same in all locations. Some areas are prone to earthquakes, while others are more likely to experience a tornado. Knowing what hazards are most likely – and more importantly, how to prepare for them – is at the heart of the PrepareAthon. I encourage you to consider the emergencies that you might face in your own communities. 

OPM participated in the PrepareAthon by holding a shelter-in-place drill. During this drill, OPM employees practiced getting away from windows and other areas that would be unsafe in the event of a tornado, high winds, or extreme rain or snow. We want our workers to know the best ways to deal with these extreme situations. As for me, I met with my senior leadership and OPM’s preparedness team to review and discuss the actions we would need to take during an emergency to make sure our employees stayed safe and to ensure the agency would continue to function as needed.

I encourage everyone to review the resources on the PrepareAthon website. Ask your employer about the emergency plan for your agency. Talk to your families about your personal plans, too. We can face emergency situations with quick action and calm if we plan ahead.  I believe it is important to take every step we can to make sure that we keep our employees and their families safe.

Three images in a row. From left to right, tool box, map of US, and megaphone.


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