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    On Wednesday, OPM brought its annual small business conference to Morgan State University’s Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management in the heart of Baltimore. There I met Jackie Boone.

    Her story is a perfect example of the work OPM and the Administration are doing in communities all across the country to help entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses.

    Jackie founded Boonerang Consulting, a Baltimore company that provides insurance, management, and facilities consulting services, primarily to government clients.

    As part of the Administration’s efforts to support entrepreneurs like Jackie, this past summer a Federal team from across government encouraged Goldman Sachs to increase its small business development efforts in Baltimore HUBZone communities. With help from the Small Business Administration and Baltimore City Hall, Goldman selected five local businesses to enroll in its 10,000 Small Business Initiative program. This 13-week national program helps small business leaders develop and grow their companies. It’s just the kind of public-private partnership that the Administration is spearheading across the country.

    Boonerang Consulting was one of the businesses chosen. The program, Jackie says, helped transform her 7-year old business. It provided her with a clear growth plan, including how she could expand into the private sector market and connecting her with new clients and a national network of business experts.

    At our event on Wednesday, Jackie met an official from GSA and the two are already talking about how Boonerang, which already has two contracts with the U.S. Army, can work with GSA in the future.

    Events like OPM’s, she says, “are well worth my time, even if I get just one new piece of information.” And Wednesday, she said, she got a lot more than that.

    Entrepreneurs like Jackie are the very business owners we are trying to reach, especially in inner cities like Baltimore and at campuses like Morgan State.

    I’m very proud that OPM is the first Federal agency to partner with an Historically Black College to host its small business event. It was a great match. In all of our work at OPM – whether in helping agencies hire the best talent or working with our small business contractors – we stress the importance of diversity and inclusion, which is also a key priority for the President.

    At Wednesday’s event, OPM’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, seven other government agencies and six private sector firms were on hand to help local business owners learn what they need to do to successfully bid for government contracts.

    In fiscal year 2014, the Federal Government awarded nearly $92 billion in small business contracts. And, in fiscal year 2015, OPM surpassed its goal of awarding 25 percent of our contracts to small businesses. In fact, last year we awarded more than one third - 34 percent – of our contracts to small businesses.

    Events like our small business conference in Baltimore not only help inform business owners like Jackie about the Federal contracting process and what they can do to compete, they help OPM and our fellow agencies learn what more we must do to help work with and support the American economy’s fastest-growing sector – small business.Acting Director Beth Cobert and Jackie Boone together at the small business conference.


    With the December 14 deadline for Federal employees and retirees to make benefit changes quickly approaching, I want to make sure you have all of the answers you need to make the best possible decisions for you and your family. 

    Today at 1:30 p.m. ET, OPM will host a special #FedBenefits Twitter chat. OPM program experts will answer your questions on health care, vision, dental, and flexible spending account benefits.

    As I mentioned last month, beginning in 2016 all carriers will offer three enrollment types: Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family. This Open Season is your first opportunity to enroll in Self Plus One, which allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member, such as a spouse or child.

    During the Twitter chat, our experts can clarify terms and help you compare plan features. It’s the perfect way to make sure you have the best information at your fingertips to make a decision by the December 14 deadline.

    Just join us at 1:30 p.m. today on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USOPM and tweet your questions using hashtag #FedBenefits. We’ll get to as many questions as we can during the hour. Also, you can tweet your questions in advance of the event.

    And of course, you don’t have to wait until the Twitter chat to get answers. Any time between now and the deadline, you can go to www.opm.gov/openseason or speak to your local HR office to get the latest information.

    John O’Brien is the Director of Healthcare and Insurance for OPM.

    Image of a Women smiling with grey background. Headline: Join @USOPM for a Twitter Chat on #FedBenefits. This is your chance to learn everything you'll need to know to make changes to your health, dental, vision or FSA plans. Subhead: When, Thurs. Dec.3, 1:30 - 2:30 pm ET. Where, On Twitter (#FedBenefits). Footer: Featuring, Amber Hudson. A federal benefits expert from OPM's Healthcare and insurance team.


    I’m pleased to report that we have established a verification center to help individuals who have had their information stolen in the malicious cyber intrusion carried out against the Federal Government.

    This verification center will help those who believe their data may have been taken but have not received a notification letter from the government. The center will also assist individuals who have received a letter letting them know they were impacted by the background investigation records intrusion, but who have lost the PIN code that allows them to sign up for the free services that the Federal Government is providing.

    The notification process is still underway. We are sending out about 800,000 notification letters each day and we are on schedule to finish the mailing in the next two weeks.  If you do not receive a letter by the middle of December, either the government could not identify a valid address for you after using both government and commercial data sources, or our records indicated that your Social Security Number was not compromised in the intrusion.

    So far nearly 1.2 million individuals have enrolled in the credit monitoring and identity protection services that the Federal Government is offering for three years, free of charge, to those individuals whose data was taken, and to their minor dependent children.

    We want to make sure that all those impacted are notified and have the opportunity to take advantage of these services. So I urge anyone who has not received a letter by the middle of this month and who believes his or her data may have been taken, to reach out to the verification center so we can confirm your correct address and send you a letter. Once you submit your information, you should receive a response in about two-to-four weeks.

    You can access the online verification center through a link at OPM’s cybersecurity resource center – www.opm.gov/cybersecurity. Or, you may call 866-408-4555 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., Eastern Time, to speak to an agent.

    OPM and our partners across government continue to work hard every day to protect the safety and security of the information of Federal employees, contractors, and others who provide their information to us. The verification center is one more way we are working to help those who were impacted by the background investigation intrusion receive the services available to them.

    Graphic with blue background. Headline: LEARN MORE AT. Subhead: OPM.GOV/CYBERSECURITY.  


    As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones, I want to take a moment to thank each and every Federal employee for their hard work and dedication to serving the American people. I also want them to thank them for their continued support of the Combined Federal Campaign.

    Each year, Federal employees show their generosity by signing up for a payroll deduction to help fund the thousands of charities that comprise the CFC, which is the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world. In the past 50 years – half a century – the CFC has raised $7 billion.

    Behind that $7 billion, are personal stories of people who have been helped by a CFC charity or who are motivated to donate because at some point in their lives they or a loved one were touched by a charitable organization.

    Here at OPM, one of our human resource specialists who works at our Boyers, Pennsylvania facility, had leukemia as a child. After going through extensive treatments at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, a charity came forward and put a little joy and magic in her life. She was able to go to Disney World and as a sixth-grader was given the chance to sing the National Anthem at a Pittsburgh Pirates game. To this day, she targets her CFC contribution to the charity that helped her at a pivotal point in her life.

    One Department of Defense employee found out last year that her mother had a serious and aggressive illness. Because of the universal giving feature of the CFC, which allows donors to contribute to charities all across the country, this Federal worker was able to give back to a local organization that helped her mother through this difficult time.

    I’m sure each one of you has heard similar stories and may well have one of your own that you could share.

    The point is, as we are all sitting around the Thanksgiving table this year, I hope we will remember those who may be spending this holiday in need.

    For those of you who are Federal employees and have not made a contribution to this year’s CFC campaign, I hope you will take a few minutes and go to www.opm.gov/cfc. This website has information about this year’s campaign, a list of the charities that are part of the CFC, and links to the CFC campaign in your area. Please consider signing up for a payroll deduction. No contribution is too small.

    And even if you are not in Federal service, I hope you’ll find a way to support causes you believe in throughout the year.

    I wish you all the best this holiday season.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Graphic with white background. Blue star within red star to the left of the headline. Headline: CFC. Subhead: Combined Federal Campaign.


    At this critical time as OPM and its government-wide partners work to strengthen the Federal Government’s cybersecurity posture, I’m excited to once again answer the call to public service.

    Photo of Clifton Triplett with white background. Headline: CLIFTON TRIPLETT. Subhead: OPM SENIOR CYBER AND ITS ADVISOR.Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I began my cybersecurity work as an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

    After my military career, I continued my IT security work in civilian life, working with some of America’s largest companies and industry leaders in telecommunications, oil field services, tractor, automotive, and aerospace industries. Before accepting Acting Director Cobert’s request that I return to serving the American people, I was a managing partner at SteelPointe Partners, a global management consulting company.

    As OPM’s new Senior Cyber and Information Technology Advisor, I am committed to working in collaboration with the talented team at this agency, our partners across government, and our stakeholders to continue efforts to strengthen our cybersecurity posture and provide assistance to those affected by the recent cybersecurity intrusions.

    All of us have an important role to play in securing our systems and protecting our information, and I am looking forward to supporting these critical efforts across the Federal Government.

    I am eager to help support OPM’s ongoing response to the cybersecurity incidents, complete the development of OPM’s IT infrastructure improvement project, which will help further guard against and mitigate future incidents, and provide recommendations to Acting Director Cobert for further measures we can take. I believe we can best secure the agency’s IT architecture by leveraging the talent and resources of this agency along with those who have been supporting us across the Federal Government and the private sector.  We cannot define and provide the best solutions alone.

    OPM, in partnership with other organizations such as DHS and the FBI, has identified many positive actions to enhance the security posture of the agency, and several of those have been completed or are near completion.

    Two-factor “strong-authentication” for all of our users within the agency was a major effort that is now completed. We have also expanded continuous monitoring of all our systems, and deployed additional advanced network security technologies. These actions have significantly improved our perimeter and internal security controls. I look forward to continuing down this path of progress as we work on additional opportunities to enhance the security and performance of our systems.

    I look forward to continuing OPM’s commitment and relentless dedication to protecting its valuable IT systems and information. I appreciate Acting Director Cobert and her team’s confidence in my ability to make a contribution to this important work.

    Together, I know we will continue to provide a comprehensive response to the cybersecurity intrusions into OPM’s systems, and continue to develop OPM’s IT infrastructure, thereby serving the needs of OPM’s customers and protecting the safety and security of its data

    Clifton Triplett is the Senior Cyber and Information Technology Advisor at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 


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