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By Maureen Clark, MPH, Public Health Analyst, National Cancer Institute, PMF Class of 2015

This is the time of year that I recall with chagrin how I got my start in the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program. The applications were due, and I applied at the last minute, the day of the deadline. While I do not recommend that strategy, I do, without reservation, recommend the PMF program.

The application period for this prestigious, competitive program for recent graduates of post-graduate programs is open now through October 13, 2015. If you’re just learning about the program or are on the fence about whether to apply, let me tell you more about my experience.

After being selected as a PMF-STEM finalist -- a track focused on science, technology, engineering, and math -- I was selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCI has been a perfect fit because of my educational background in public health, English, and pre-medical studies, as well as my passion for NCI’s mission: to conduct and support research, training, and programs aimed at reducing the cancer rate.

The PMF program looks a little bit different at each agency. At NCI, PMFs typically complete four to six rotations across the organization. My first rotation was in one of NCI’s program offices, where I worked on strategic planning and the identification of scientific trends related to health communications research. And right now I am in NCI’s Office of Government and Congressional Relations, which serves as the liaison between Congress and NCI’s scientific staff. Each experience presents unique challenges, but all of the offices have treated me as a vital member of the team.

PMFs are also required to complete 80 training hours per year over the course of the two-year program. I have participated in training specific to my current work, as well as a special session on leadership in the style of George Washington at his historic estate in Mount Vernon. I also had the chance to attend sessions on innovation, held at the White House, and on Congress, held on Capitol Hill. There are also extremely helpful informational interviews. During a typical session, I sit down with a colleague at NIH and ask as many questions as I can to learn about his or her career.

The fellowship has provided me with an insider’s view of how the Federal Government operates. I’ve watched the budgeting process and have come to understand the priorities that shape NIH’s mission. And my external rotation -- one of the key features of the PMF program -- in the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Communications gave me a broad perspective on opportunities across government agencies.

I still have another year left in the fellowship, but because of the experiences I’ve had, I have some ideas about what’s next for me. I’d like to continue to address health disparities, particularly as they relate to health literacy and health care access. I am going to use the health communications skills I have been able to develop. And I do hope that my next job will be in the Federal Government.

I’m very glad that I made that last-minute decision to apply to the PMF program nearly two years ago. And I’m grateful for the training, networking, and career opportunities that I’ve had since then. I am most thankful for the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of people across the country.

Visit www.pmf.gov for more information about the PMF program.

- Photo of Maureen Clark a participant of the Presidential Management Fellowship Program.

The results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) are in and they show that employees across the Federal Government are more engaged in their workplaces and more satisfied with their jobs than they were a year ago. While there is still plenty of room for improvement, there are signs that the Administration’s focus on employee engagement is beginning to pay dividends for the workforce, and ultimately for our customers, the American people.

I’d like to share some highlights of the government-wide results as well as share an important update on how you can access some of the data. The employee engagement and global satisfaction results of this year’s FEVS can now be viewed by the public in visual formats on UnlockTalent.gov, OPM’s innovative digital dashboard. This tool, which allows customized views of the data, was previously available only to the leadership of Federal agencies.

One highlight in the government-wide results that is especially meaningful for me and other leaders this year is a 1 percent increase in the employee engagement index score, to 64 percent from 63 percent in 2014. Although the change may appear to be small, it is in fact statistically significant, and many individual agencies experienced larger gains.

The FEVS provides a powerful way for agency leaders to evaluate their engagement programs and office cultures. As leaders, we know that employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the Federal Government, which translates into better customer service for the American people.

Agency leaders have actively responded to feedback from prior years’ surveys and those efforts are reflected in the results. Compared with 2014, more employees in 2015 perceive their agency conditions as conducive to employee engagement, which is defined as an employee’s sense of purpose, manifest in the level of dedication, persistence, and effort that he or she puts into the work and into the overall commitment to an agency and its mission.

Internal engagement efforts are more likely to be successful when employee feedback is used to make workplace changes. That’s why these results are crucial. Agencies that experienced increases in employee engagement of 3 percentage points or more also saw an increase in employees’ confidence that the survey would be used to make the agency a better place to work.

Another important index also increased by 1 percent government-wide: The global satisfaction score in 2015 was 60 percent, up from 59 percent in 2014. That score tells us that employees are more satisfied with their jobs, their pay, and their organizations and that they are more likely to recommend their agency to others.

This year, 50 percent of the employees who were surveyed responded, for a total of 421,748 responses from 82 agencies. The response rate was 3 percentage points higher than last year’s 47 percent.  Overall, 75 percent of responses to the individual survey questions were more positive than they were last year.

And the results underscore the dedication of Federal employees. The survey found that 90 percent or more of employees view their work as important, are willing to commit extra effort when necessary to get their jobs done, and consistently seek out ways to do their jobs better.

Other trends remained strong in 2015: By and large, employees expressed that they  enjoy good relationships with their supervisors and are satisfied with telework and alternative work schedules. Areas where the results show we need improvement are: Adequately dealing with poor performers and recognizing differences in performance levels within work units.

Employees’ ratings of senior agency leaders, which declined by 3 percentage points in the 2014 survey, rebounded somewhat in 2015 with a 1 percentage point increase. But it’s clear that we need to continue our focus on engagement and building confidence in our senior leadership.

This is the second in a series of infographics highlighting results from the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).   The infographic positions the FEVS as a powerful tool for agencies and continues the metaphor of a classic wrench.   Title:  First Glance at Results 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey  Top Left Quadrant:  Decorative graphic composed of simplified, stylized versions of data visuals such as pie charts, line and bar graphs. This area also contains two government-wide data points from the 2015 results:  •	The Response Rate increased to 50% •	75% of responses more positive than last year  Top Right Quadrant: Two government-wide data points from the 2015 results:  •	Gov-wide Engagement increased to 64% •	Global Satisfaction increased to 60%  Bottom half of infographic introduces UnlockTalent.gov, the new online visualization tool for exploring FEVS data, with the following features and capabilities:  •	Now accessible to all Federal employees and the public •	Explore engagement and global satisfaction scores •	Review trends from 2010-2015  The primary visual in the bottom half is a combination padlock. Supporting visuals are small examples of chart and graph styles.   The bottom of the page contains the main URL and hashtag:   OPM.GOV/FEVS #FEVS 

As of today, everyone can access the employee engagement and global satisfaction data with our visualization tool, UnlockTalent.gov, which tells the story with graphs, charts, and other visual means. It is a very helpful way to analyze the results agency by agency.

Here are five things you’ll want to know to get started:

Clicking on UnlockTalent.gov will take you directly to the data, no sign-in required.

  • Explore government-wide data, specifically response rates, employee engagement index, and global satisfaction scores.
  • Explore, by agency, the employee engagement index (including the supporting subfactors that create the index -- Leaders Lead, Supervisors, and Intrinsic Work Experience) and global satisfaction index scores.
  • See how agencies compare in these areas in 2015 as well as review their trends from 2010 to 2015.
  • Download the data into a spreadsheet.

This tool has been an invaluable resource for leaders throughout the government, and I am pleased that it is now available for all to use. Every employee is a part of the change and we want to keep the momentum going. If we continue to work together, the progress will show in future surveys.

Note to our readers: OPM will release the full 2015 FEVS government-wide report soon.


OPM soon will be releasing the government-wide results of the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), and I am happy to report that we are seeing some positive trends in the numbers this year, although we still have more work to do. Participation in the survey was up – the response rate was 50 percent, up from 47 percent in 2014 – and employee engagement index scores improved at most agencies. The Administration’s focus on engagement is having an impact, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results in more detail soon. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about why employee engagement is so important, and to share a success story from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Employee engagement drives performance and is closely tied to mission success in the Federal Government. An agency that engages its employees ensures a work environment where each employee can reach his or her potential, which in turn has a strong impact on the agency’s ability to achieve its mission goals. Individual agency performance contributes to success for the entire Federal Government, which means better service for the American people.

Engagement occurs in every office between employees and their supervisors and should be a focus at all levels of an agency, from front-line employees to the leadership. The People and Culture plank of the President’s Management Agenda was created, in part, to shine a light on engagement and to support agencies’ efforts to strengthen an organizational culture of employee engagement and mission performance.

This past year, each agency was asked to appoint a senior accountable official responsible for improving employee engagement. Agencies then worked closely with OPM’s FEVS team to analyze and interpret their reports. Each agency received detailed, customized reports with data broken down by department, program, and office, with the goal of enabling agencies to examine internal engagement at the “local level”.

The experience of HUD shows just how powerful a tool the FEVS can be. This past year, HUD increased its engagement score by 5 percentage points. It also increased its global satisfaction score by 6 percentage points. This impressive growth came about as a result of the agency’s commitment to increasing internal engagement.

In sharing their story with OPM, HUD officials credited several efforts with making the difference. They created new collaboration tools, and repurposed some existing ones, for employees to share ideas with their leaders. One such tool is HUDConnect, an internal social media platform that gives employees the opportunity to reach out to leaders and each other. They can recommend process improvements or new technologies. The agency also implemented regular emails to the workforce and quarterly town hall meetings as ways to open lines of communication.

Every employee was provided the FEVS scores for the agency as well as analyses of the data. HUD encouraged senior leaders to use www.unlocktalent.gov – a dashboard OPM created last year that puts each agency’s survey data into visual formats and helps leaders to better understand what the numbers mean.

Importantly, at HUD, change came from the top. Secretary Julián Castro made engaging employees a priority – and he made sure employees knew their feedback would be taken seriously. He and Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti challenged the department to increase participation in the survey from 51 percent to 75 percent, and it ultimately achieved a 74 percent response rate. Coloretti placed a strong emphasis on responding to employees’ requests through internal tools like HUDConnect and Switchboard, two ways to directly solicit employee feedback. She conducted deep-dive conversations with program offices to create a set of initiatives to build a stronger HUD. These initiatives were shared with employees agency-wide and voted on; from this feedback, there are several projects happening now that are expected to improve HUD’s processes and systems and to strengthen its staff.

These strategies are backed up by our experience with Federal agencies collectively.  Leadership involvement, improving internal communications, and enabling employees to have more input into how their organization functions are proven approaches to boosting employee engagement and performance.

I congratulate everyone at HUD for their commitment to employee engagement, for maximizing the value of FEVS as a tool to drive change, and for embracing evidence-based strategies in order to achieve progress. Well done.

There are many other agency success stories in this year’s FEVS results, and I look forward to sharing more of them soon on the OPM blog.

2015 FEVS   This is the first in a series of infographics highlighting results from the 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).   The infographic positions the FEVS as a powerful tool for agencies and introduces the metaphor of a classic wrench.   Title:  Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey HUD shows how powerful a tool the FEVS can be.   TABLE 2014 and 2015 FEVS scores for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for three indices: Response Rate, Global Satisfaction, and Engagement Index.   HUD's FEVS Response Rate in 2014 was 51% compared to 74% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Global Satisfaction score in 2014 was 51% compared to 57% in 2015.  HUD's FEVS Engagement Index score in 2014 was 57% compared to 62% in 2015.    Bottom half of infographic is a visual of interconnected gears titled


Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C. this week is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors to the city and create traffic congestion across the region. Depending on where your office is located, this could have a significant impact on your commute.

While the Federal Government will remain open during the pope’s visit – Tuesday evening through Thursday – OPM has strongly encouraged agencies to allow employees to use any workplace flexibilities available to them, especially telework. In the D.C. area, 70 percent of Federal employees are eligible to telework and those who take advantage of that option this week will be helping to alleviate congestion and ensure public safety while remaining fully productive, despite the logistical challenges associated with the pope’s visit.

If you do not yet have a plan in place for telework or using other flexibility options, talk with your supervisor. Additionally, if you are on an alternative work schedule, consider whether you can move your day off to give yourself flexibility during the visit. There are a number of options, and we encourage supervisors to be as flexible as possible.

Decreasing the number of commuters into and leaving the city this week will help alleviate traffic congestion and stress on public transportation. If you are required to commute to the city during this time, be sure to allow plenty of extra time. If you are driving, check the street closures ahead of time, and if you are using public transportation, keep an eye out for alerts and changes in schedules from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority.

And, as always, watch local news outlets for additional changes and alerts. You can get up-to-date information on the papal visit and the areas of the city that will be affected at PopeFrancisVisit.com.

Brenda Roberts is the Deputy Associate Director for Pay and Leave at the Office of Personnel Management. 

Two purple quotation marks with purple background. Headline: OPM STRONGLY ENCOURAGES AGENCIES TO ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO TELEWORK TO KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OPERATING WHILE HELPING TO MINIMIZE TRAFFIC CONGESTION AND SUPPORT LAW ENFORCMENT EFFORTS DURING THIS EVENT. Subhead: BETH COBERT. Footer: ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT.  



Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off this week, with the theme, Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity. As a workforce, we are better when we draw from all segments of society. Hispanics are an integral part of America’s culture and heritage, and this year’s theme encourages us to explore and celebrate that legacy.

A diverse Federal workforce helps us better serve all Americans. That is why I am proud of OPM’s leadership on the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment, which met earlier this summer and will meet again at the end of this month. The Council and OPM have worked together to develop strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Its members have advised OPM on approaches that avoid unnecessary barriers to Federal employment, both at the entry level and at the executive level. The members of the Council were also instrumental in helping OPM develop its REDI Roadmap by sharing their knowledge of diverse communities and Hispanic millennials. And many of the organizations that sit on the Council have provided leadership training to Federal employees to help the government develop a pipeline of talent.

In my time on the Council, I plan to continue this great work. There is more to be done, but we have made progress that we can build on. Representation of Hispanic Americans in the Federal Government has consistently gone up over the past several years, and it’s also increasing in the Senior Executive Service. At OPM, we intend to continue our recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts and to bolster an inclusive work environment.

Here at OPM, we’ll be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with several workforce events, and agencies across the government will be doing the same. I encourage every Federal employee to take the time to participate and continue our shared commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce.

- Two dark transparent quotation marks with yellow background. Headline: AMERICA'S HISPANIC COMMUNITY HAS WOVEN UNIQUE THREADS INTO THE DIVERSE FABRIC OF OUR COUNTRY AND PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN SHAPING OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER AS A PEOPLE OF LIMITLESS POSSIBILITY. Subhead: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA. Footer: PRESIDENTIAL PROCLIMATION- HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

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