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As we begin the annual celebration of African American History Month, we can all be proud of the diversity of our Federal workforce and encourage all Americans to celebrate the leaders who risked their lives to fight for equality for all Americans, regardless of race.
African American leaders have had a significant impact on this country by serving in the Federal Government. From former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to President Obama, to name just a few, these inspiring men and women have changed the course of American history by breaking down racial barriers as they dedicated their lives to public service.
The theme for this year’s African American History Month, “Hallowed Grounds – Sites of African American Memories,” calls on us to remember the landmark locations across the country where African Americans struggled for freedom and justice. These historic sites include stops along the Underground Railroad, Frederick Douglass’ home in Washington, D.C., and the famous Beale Street in Memphis, located just six blocks from where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, now home to the National Civil Rights Museum.
In his annual Proclamation commemorating National African American History Month, the President encourages us by saying: “As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
One of OPM’s most important missions is to help agencies across government recruit, hire, and retain a dedicated workforce that draws on the skills, character, and experiences of people of all communities in this great nation. Nearly 18 percent of the Federal Workforce is African American. But we know that African Americans are underrepresented in leadership roles and OPM is working with a number of employee and support groups on an Senior Executive Service development program to address this gap.
At OPM, one of the ways we will commemorate this important month will be by hearing from civil rights activist Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, one of our nation’s trailblazer Freedom Riders. In 1961, Mulholland was a 19-year-old Duke University student who had arrived in Jackson, Miss. as part of the Mississippi Freedom Ride. During the course of that summer, African American and white civil rights activists coordinated bus trips throughout the South to protest segregation in bus terminals.
The group gained worldwide attention when blacks used “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters, a challenge to the Jim Crow laws that had been in place since the late 1870’s. They were met with violent protestors, and in some cases, such as Mulholland’s, they were arrested for their heroic actions. But due to their determination and dedication to right a wrong, by late that summer, segregation in bus and train stations was prohibited.
To learn more about Mulholland’s incredible story and her fellow Freedom Riders, check out the American Experience: Freedom Riders documentary from PBS.
Throughout the month of February and during the rest of the year, I hope all of us will take some time to reflect on those who sacrificed so much to create a more inclusive and supportive country for us all.
Mentoring is a two-way street. There are times in all our careers when we need help and guidance from a colleague or friend. And, we can learn as much from those we mentor as we can from those who advise us.
January is National Mentoring Month. Since 2010, the President has called on us to set aside time to communicate how mentoring can help us give back, support each other, and develop a world-class Federal workforce.
The Administration believes in mentoring. The President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative that focuses on helping our youth, including through mentorship relationships. The First Lady leads the “Reach Higher” initiative that encourages campus groups and college students to connect with high school students who need role models who can help them envision a college degree.
At OPM, we are helping agencies and employees across government encourage and institute ways to match mentors and mentees and learn more about the value of mentoring.
Since last summer, we have been piloting a government-wide mentoring hub that brings together mentors and mentees. We plan to launch this program across government later this year. We have also developed the SES Situational Mentoring Program to help senior executives deal with specific challenges or opportunities. In cooperation with agencies across government, OPM is also taking the lead on the Executive Women in Motion initiative where SES members serve as mentors in an effort to encourage more women to join the executive ranks.
Agencies across government also have designed their own mentoring programs. In addition to helping mentors and mentees connect, at OPM we are celebrating mentoring month by holding a Mentor Shadowing Day, situational mentoring roundtables, and speed mentoring sessions.
I’d like to invite Federal employees across government to join us Tuesday, February 23, at our Washington, D.C. headquarters or via webcast for a program entitled “Why Mentoring Matters.” Our guest speaker will be Christina Goldfuss, managing director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who will talk about how mentoring has influenced her career.
This event was moved to February because of the snow storm.
Federal employees who would like to attend the event in person can go to hru.gov to get registration information. The link to view the webcast is: http://web.2.c3.audiovideoweb.com/ca25web26002/7c3flslive1573.html
At OPM we believe mentoring is a critical element in workforce development, and while we encourage all employees to take advantage of the mentoring programs in their agencies, you don’t need a formal program to be a mentor or to find one. Mentoring someone can be as simple as getting a cup of coffee with a colleague. And finding a mentor can be as simple as approaching a co-worker you respect and admire and asking for some advice.
As National Mentoring Month comes to a close, let’s endeavor to develop and nurture mentoring relationships throughout the year. By doing so, we will enrich our careers and we will be to provide even better service to the American people.
Cross-posted from the White House blog.
Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, encourages Americans to consider careers in public service--particularly in national security and international affairs.
If you care about the world and want to help shape a better future for us all, there is nothing more rewarding than choosing a career in public service. You can directly contribute to keeping our country strong and safe.
As a public servant, every day brings new and different challenges. The work is hard, but nothing is more gratifying than knowing you’ve made a difference in the world--that you’ve helped make someone’s life just a little bit better.
One of the many benefits of Federal service is that there are positions in virtually every field. While many think that Federal Government jobs are all in Washington, D.C., in fact, 85 percent of Federal positions are outside of the D.C. area. More than 50,000 employees work abroad.
Having public servants from varied backgrounds and with diverse skill sets throughout government is key to developing the best workforce in service of the American people. That is why in August 2011 the President issued an Executive Order calling for a government-wide coordinated effort to promote diversity and inclusion within the Federal workforce. The President’s Management Agenda builds on that commitment.
If you are interested in joining the ranks of Federal public servants, you can begin exploring career opportunities through USAJOBS.gov. Nearly all Federal job openings are posted on this site and each job announcement includes details about responsibilities, qualifications, benefits, and application instructions. At any given time, there are approximately 20,000 positions available.
If you are interested in the national security and international affairs fields, here are some exciting current opportunities:
I hope you will consider joining me in serving the American people here and around the world.
Follow Ambassador Rice on Twitter: @AmbassadorRice
The Government has a responsibility to determine the fitness of Federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, and contractors for the jobs they are hired into and can be trusted in the sensitive work they do on behalf of the American people each and every day. At the same time, we as leaders in Government must work diligently to protect the information these individuals give us in order to verify their readiness.
With these responsibilities in mind, today, the Federal Government announced a series of changes to modernize and strengthen the way we conduct background investigations for Federal employees and contractors and protect sensitive data. These changes include the establishment of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), which will absorb the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) existing Federal Investigative Services (FIS), and be headquartered in Washington, D.C. This new government-wide service provider for background investigations will be housed within the OPM. Its mission will be to provide effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government. Unlike the previous structure, the Department of Defense will assume the responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of the background investigations IT systems for the NBIB.
Today’s announcement comes after an interagency 90-Day Suitability and Security review commenced last year in light of increasing cybersecurity threats, including the compromise of information housed at OPM, to re-examine reforms to the Federal background investigations process, assess additional enhancements to further secure information networks and systems, and determine improvements that could be made to the way the Government conducts background investigations for suitability, security and credentialing.
This review was conducted by the interagency Performance Accountability Council (PAC), which is chaired by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and comprised of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in their respective roles as Security and Suitability Executive Agents of the PAC, and the Departments of Defense (DOD), the Treasury, Homeland Security, State, Justice, Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others. It also included consultation with outside experts.
We are proud of the collaborative effort of the interagency team that helped identify these critical reforms. And we are committed to protecting the security of not only our systems and data, but also the Personally Identifiable Information of the people we entrust with protecting our national security.
We also want to thank the men and women of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services for the work they do every day to provide quality background investigations to agencies across Government.
The Administration will establish a transition team that will develop a plan to stand up NBIB and migrate the existing functions of the current Federal Investigative Service to the NBIB, and to make sure that agencies continue to get the investigative services they need during the transition.
For more information about today’s announcement please go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/22/way-forward-federal-background-investigations.
Developing and retaining the Federal cybersecurity workforce is a top priority for OPM as we work to strengthen our Federal networks and systems and safeguard critical data in one of the most important challenges of our time. But we cannot do it alone.
Across the Federal Government, we are working together to address critical cybersecurity skills gaps and help address the higher education needs of the Federal workforce. To help accomplish this goal, we are leveraging the expertise of higher education partners we have formed alliances with in recent years, including University of Maryland University College and Champlain College.
As part of our broader effort to attract more cybersecurity talent to Federal service, I’m excited to announce the launch of a program that will help us close this critical skills gap. Champlain College’s new Master of Science in Information Security Operations is being offered at a 50 percent discount to Federal employees via the truED® alliance. This 30-credit program can be completed in 20 months, and more accelerated options may be available for highly-motivated students.
This program is one example of how our relationships with our higher education partners are shaping what is being taught in classrooms to develop future generations of Americans who aspire to public service, and inspire new programs designed to ensure that our Federal workforce continues to be high-performing, well-prepared, and well-trained.
The M.S. in Information Security Operations is an advanced program taught by specialists in the field and is designed to marry tactical abilities with strategic expertise at the operational level. This program is also designed to help security professionals advance and hone their ability to successfully prevent, respond to, and mitigate threats. The program delivers hands-on learning that directly applies to the challenges and responsibilities Federal information security professionals face each day.
For more details on the M.S. in Information Security Operations, you may call 1-877-887-3960 to talk to an admissions representative at Champlain College or register to attend one of the free upcoming Federal informational webinars:
Since April 2015 when OPM partnered with Champlain College to provide Federal employees, their spouses, and legal adult dependents access to top-rated, affordable post-secondary education in high-demand fields, nearly 1,000 Federal employees from agencies across government have enrolled in courses through truED.
Champlain College is designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by both the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
I hope Federal employees across government will consider taking advantage of this new degree program and other educational opportunities with our partners.
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