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An official website of the United States Government.

Our Director Director's Blog

Welcome! We are committed to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people.

Let us know when you like our messages by giving the thumbs up and sharing our information. You can connect with Director Archuleta on Twitter: @OPMDirector and Facebook.com/OPMDirector. Also, find us on other social media channels.

It’s officially spring and the weather is slowly edging away from what’s been an unusually harsh winter season. We’ve had one major storm after another and lots of little ones in between. We’ve all made good use of our shovels, ice scrapers, coats, hats and gloves.

At Dulles Airport, one of the major measuring centers, the National Weather Service measured 52.8 inches of snow for this winter, 30 inches more than the seasonal average. This is likely a winter we’ll be telling stories about for many years to come.

Wherever I go, people always ask me about our Dismissal and Closure status. Our social media channels start getting busy with questions and comments days before a storm is ready to hit!

What many people don’t realize is that we prepare all year round for these kinds of events. Whether it’s an unexpectedly heavy winter weather season, an earthquake in August, or a Superstorm in October, we do all we can to make sure we are prepared for anything.  Decisions may be hard and not always popular, but because we prepare, we barely miss a beat.

We consult throughout the year with our partners in this effort – the Council of Governments, the National Weather Service and transportation departments throughout the National Capital Area.

OPM’s guidance covers any natural disaster or event that disrupts commuting in the DC area.  This includes not only snow and ice, but earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes or other special events that may occur during the year.  Whenever these emergencies occur, OPM is committed to promoting the continuity of operations and ensuring the safety of its workforce. 

   

One of the strongest tools we have is telework.  During emergencies, teleworking is often the best option for continuity of operations. That’s why so much of our Dismissal and Closure guide helps agencies and employees understand their options and flexibilities.

We want to make sure that as much as possible, the weather doesn’t keep the Federal workforce from providing excellent service to the American people.

The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 helps us do that. The Act requires agencies to incorporate telework into their continuity of operation plans.  OPM used the Act as an opportunity to highlight telework in our emergency announcements. We have been working with agencies to increase the use of telework, both regularly and during emergencies.

That effort is paying off. Federal employees are teleworking at an all-time high across the country. In the DC area, according to the Employee Viewpoint Survey, 70 percent of employees are telework eligible. Telework is the best option to keep the Federal Government working during the emergencies that prevent normal government operations.

Moreover, new technologies allow Federal employees to work from home, and I know most of you find ways to make up your work at no cost to the Federal government.  As such, there is no good way for us to calculate with any accuracy the cost of closing Federal government building.

Each year, OPM reviews its guidance and discusses lessons learned with its interagency working group and labor unions.  These discussions ensure that OPM’s announcements reflect the current needs of the Federal workforce. Over the past several years, we’ve worked unscheduled leave and telework into nearly all of our status options so that you have the flexibility to make the right decision for you and your family.  

We follow up our consultations and engagement with the interagency and union stakeholders with videos, guidance, and other materials to help inform Federal employees.  Througout the year, we also encourage Federal workers to have preparedness conversations with their supervisors and agency leaders.  And when in doubt, FEMA’s www.ready.gov is the one stop shop for general preparedness tips and information.

Now that we’ve (hopefully) seen our last snow of the season, let’s keep the conversation going.  Talk to your employees, to your supervisor, and to your families about the plans that work for you. Let’s all think about this winter and learn from it.  I know that together we’ll be ready for the next emergency that comes our way.  After all, hurricane season is right around the corner.

Happy Spring!

 

 

 


We learned today that more than 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance so far in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

This important milestone means that more than 6 million Americans can count on affordable, quality health care. It means they don’t have to worry about insurance companies refusing to cover them because they are sick or have a preexisting condition. It means 6 million Americans don’t have to worry about how they will pay a hospital bill if they or someone in their family gets sick.

In the past month I have been to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Miami, Houston and Phoenix to spread the word about the need for all uninsured Americans to sign up for health insurance, particularly Latinos, who have a higher uninsured rate than most Americans and more health risk factors.

At one enrollment site in Phoenix, 300 people had waited on line just on Wednesday to get signed up. And nationwide on Wednesday there were 1.5 million visits to healthcare.gov and the call center received more than 430,000 calls.

6 million is great. But our work is not yet done. We have four days left. We all need to spread the word to our friends, our families, our colleagues, our neighbors. Enroll in the Marketplace.

Tell them to go to healthcare.gov. Tell them to go to cuidadodesalud.gov. Tell them to call the 1-800-318-2596 call center 24 hours a day.

Let’s get everyone covered now!  

http://youtu.be/3Okgs0a-ybM


The Office of Personnel Management is committed to the accurate and timely processing of retirement claims to Federal retirees.  In recent months, we have taken steps to reduce the backlog in processing Federal employee retirement requests, addressed the needs of the Retirement Services (RS) Information Technology system and improved customer service in RS.

Because of the hard work of our employees, OPM has made significant improvements to retirement processing efforts over the past year.  As of the end of fiscal 2013, the claims inventory was 17,719 cases – a 71 percent reduction since the peak of 61,108 cases in January 2012.  As of February 2014, the average time to process a new retirement claim was 61 days. The average processing time was 91 days in July of 2013 and 156 days in December 2011.  While annuitants wait for their final monthly annuity, OPM places new retirees on interim pay which on average constitutes approximately 80% of their final pay within 7 days of notification of their retirement.  Process improvements achieved through the hard work of our RS employees and strategic efforts have allowed for this reduction in inventory.  
 
While parts of the retirement process remains paper-based, OPM has begun a gradual transition to a fully digital process. Since 2005, new employees’ data is all maintained electronically.  The OPM Strategic Plan and OPM Strategic IT Plan outline the fully electronic process using that data.  Once the transition is complete, most retirement data will be electronic, and the vast majority of records will be sent automatically through the system to the points where a human decision-maker is still needed.

We are expanding on the Retirement Case Management System being developed with resources Congress provided in 2014. We are doing that by moving to align our retirement processing systems to a common IT platform with other OPM activities. This will make it easier to accomplish future incremental retirement processing improvements and take advantage of data OPM will gather throughout an employee’s career lifecycle.

The IT improvements included in the President’s fiscal 2015 Budget request are based on the Retirement Services Strategic Plan and similar successful information technology initiatives. In addition, we are working closely with major commercial providers of IT services that support agencies’ retirement application processing to ensure that Retirement Services information technology systems are compatible and consistent with current technology.

While OPM has made progress, I will work closely with leadership and employees to continue to improve the services that our customers deserve and expect.  We are working to prioritize claims processing, customer service, and IT modernization, including the development of a case management system for Retirement Services.

I remain humbled by the hard work and dedication of OPM employees, and want to assure the Federal workforce that I remain focused on providing RS the tools it needs, including to  improve Retirement Services IT.

We will continue to make every effort to provide the excellent and timely service that our world class Federal workforce deserves.


I’m headed to Miami this weekend. We’re coming down to the wire for uninsured Americans people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. I especially want to make sure that the millions of uninsured Latinos know the benefits of the new health care law and how they can enroll.

The deadline for signing up for this year is March 31. After that people without health insurance will have to wait another year to enroll. They’ll have to wait another year to benefit from the preventive care the Affordable Care Act provides for free. They’ll have to wait another year for the Federal financial assistance available to help people pay their monthly premiums. They’ll have to pay a penalty for not being covered.

So far more than 5 million people without insurance have already signed up for a plan. More than 10 million people have enrolled in private insurance or signed up, renewed, or found out they are eligible for Medicaid coverage.

In Miami on Saturday I will go to Palmetto Hospital in Hialeah where Enroll America is sponsoring an event to help people sign up for the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. I want to salute Enroll America and all the other community groups across the country for the hard work they are doing in key states where large numbers of Americans are uninsured and need coverage.

After the formal event, I will join community organizers to go door-to-door in the community to explain to people the benefits of the new health law and tell them how they can sign up.

I need your help. If you are uninsured, enroll. If you have health insurance, talk to family members, talk to friends, talk to neighbors. If people have questions, there are navigators and online resources available to help. A call center is available at 1-800-318-2596, seven days a week, 24-hours a day. Consumers can get help in English and in Spanish.

Don’t forget. The deadline is Monday, March 31. It is so important to #GetCovered!


During my confirmation hearing last summer, I promised to assess the state of Information Technology at OPM and develop a strategic IT plan within 100 days of being sworn in. I am pleased to share that plan with you today.

The Strategic IT Plan addresses our technology needs across the agency and aims to improve many of the factors that directly impact our IT, including efficiency, accountability, and innovation. It’s organized around the concept of an “HR lifecycle IT framework.” This builds upon OPM’s strategic workforce planning for the hiring process and continues throughout an employee’s career in Federal service, culminating in retirement.

IT is really about a bigger picture. We know that our IT systems impact how we do every aspect of our work. That is why in order to better serve the American people, Federal employees, and Federal agencies, my team and I will also use the HR lifecycle IT framework to help make government human resources smarter and more effective.

Here’s a look at our HR lifecycle framework: 

Graphic of the HR lifecycle framework. Header reads: Strategy, Acquire, Sustain, and Separate. 3 tier chart, Top tier: Business Initiatives, Middle tier: Enterprise Initiatives, Bottom tier: Enabling Initiatives.

 
Our goal is to be able to:

  • Manage, analyze, and share data easily
  • Leverage efficiencies
  • Support business processes
  • Enable better decision-making

There are a lot of pieces to this plan, some of which you will see up close – such as USAJOBS and our retirement tools. Other aspects will take place behind the scenes. Either way, we’ll be using the same strategy of making foundational improvements and working through initiatives -  from IT leadership to Data Analytics to Information Security. That will allow us to improve IT across the board. In the end, our goal is to provide better, faster service in every way possible.

There’s a lot more to this plan and I’m sure we’ll have more to share in the coming months as we put it into action. If you’d like to read the plan in its entirety, you can find it on OPM’s website (http://www.opm.gov/about-us/budget-performance/strategic-plans/strategic-it-plan.pdf).

This Strategic IT Plan is another step in OPM’s mission to better recruit, retain and honor a world-class Federal workforce.


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