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    Black background with gay pride flag shaped in a heart, with the words '2016 Pride Inside and Out, LGBT Pride Month'

    June is Pride Month and each year we set aside this month to reaffirm our commitment to equal opportunity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government sets an example and tone for all other employers, an example that reinforces the fact that employment discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is simply unacceptable.

    This June, across the Federal family and throughout the nation, Americans are grieving and angry at the horrific massacre at a nightclub in Orlando. As the President said in the aftermath of the shootings:  “As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”

    All of our people.

    As Federal employees and as Americans, we will stand together and refuse to allow the brutal murders in Orlando to deter us. This is a time for the Federal community to come together, to support each other, and to not let this tragedy lessen our resolve to continue the important work of promoting equal opportunity and preventing discrimination.

    At OPM we have been at the forefront of implementing Administration policy and court decisions that expand rights for the LGBT community. When the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that the Federal Government must recognize same-sex marriages in states where they were allowed, OPM was the first agency to roll out benefits. Even before the Windsor decision, OPM spearheaded and effort to expand agencies’ ability to extend benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees and their children where the law would permit.

    The President also issued an Executive Order making it clear that Federal employees and employees of Federal contractors are protected from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    President Obama spoke of this commitment in his Pride Month proclamation: “There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts -- that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

    We still have work to do and it would be a disservice to the LGBT community – as well as all minority communities – to suggest that discrimination is a thing of the past. But here at OPM we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent any discrimination in our Federal workplaces. We have worked to make sure LGBT employees have the same rights and benefits as all Federal employees. From health insurance to leave to care for a same-sex partner when they are sick, our hope is to make sure that no Federal employee ever receives unequal treatment.

    We also want to make sure that members of the LGBT community and all Federal employees who experience any type of discrimination in the Federal workplace know their options for recourse. That is why on June 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.  OPM will be hosting an event at its headquarters entitled “Addressing LGBT Discrimination in Federal Employment.” The program will also be webcast. We hope you will join us as representatives from the Equal Opportunity Employment Council, Office of Special Counsel, and OPM discuss what protections exist and how to handle any discrimination that you may experience in the workplace.

    Not only is discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity illegal, it also diminishes the Federal Government’s ability to hire, retain, and promote a talented workforce. I urge everyone to take time this month – and every month throughout the year- to support the members of the LGBT community all across this country who work to eliminate and prevent discrimination everywhere.


    graphic with bright yellow background. Primary image on left is a large speech bubble filled with different sizes of vibrantly colored people icons. Headline: Let your voice be heard. Subhead: Take the survey today. Blue box below Headline and Subheadline has white text that reads: Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, Employees Influencing Change. Pink footer has white text that reads, from left to right: OPM.gov/FEVS, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, #FEVS

    Each year, OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) gives Federal employees across government the opportunity to confidentially tell their supervisors and managers what works well and what needs improvement when it comes to their agency, their specific job and their work environment. Many of you have received an email at your agency email address inviting you to participate in this voluntary, confidential survey. Now is the time for you to express your opinions.

    It’s up to each agency to use this feedback, but rest assured, your managers and supervisors take these results very seriously. One of the most important pillars of the President’s Management Agenda calls on agencies to improve employee engagement. This survey is a key tool to help them do that. We’ve seen great change across government as a result of past surveys.

    For example, at OPM as a result of the feedback we received from the 2015 survey, we:

    • Increased information about what is happening around the agency
    • Created workshops for employees and supervisors
    • Enhanced Employee Resource Groups
    • Re-launched the OPM Mentoring Program
    • Expanded Diversity and Inclusion Dialogues
    • Provided more opportunities to get to know senior leaders 
      through brown bag lunch series

    I encourage all those who have been invited to participate in this year’s FEVS to complete the survey. We want your opinions regarding your job, your agency, and your workplace as a whole. Each employee’s voice can inspire change. Everyone’s responses help agencies identify areas that need attention. The more responses we receive, the better we understand your opinions and needs.

    We make confidentiality of the results a priority. Every piece of feedback you give in the survey is confidential. Any information that would allow personal identification is always withheld when survey results are shared with your manager, others in the agency, or in publicly released reports regarding the survey.  So please be as honest as possible. If your agency’s leadership knows exactly how you feel, that’s when meaningful change can happen. 

    The deadline for completing the FEVS is fast approaching. Different agencies have different closing dates, but the deadline for the first wave of surveys is the week of June 6; the second and final wave closes the week of June 14. If you have questions about your FEVS survey, send an email to the address included in the email message you received inviting you to participate.

    The FEVS takes about 25 minutes to complete and can generally be filled out during work hours. Of course, participation in the survey is voluntary. But please consider lending your voice - this is your chance to give your opinions and let your leadership know the issues are most critical to you. 


    graphic with Shades of tan background. Primary image is a sphere colored orange. Dark brown colored headline: ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH 2016. Dark colored subtext: EMBRACE DIFFERENCES- MANY CULTURES, ONE WALK.

    May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month and is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the vast contributions AAPI communities make to both our nation and as part of the Federal workforce that serves the American people.

    In the first year of his administration, the President signed an executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs.

    The President’s commitment to this fastest-growing racial group in our country has extended to every corner of his administration.

    At OPM, I’m grateful that Kiran Ahuja, who for six years was the Executive Director of the WHIAAPI, now serves as our Chief of Staff. Michelle Lee serves as the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Chris Lu is the Deputy Secretary of Labor. Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy is the nation’s Surgeon General. Nani Coloretti serves as Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Deputy Secretary. And Esther Kia’aina is an Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior. These are just a few of the AAPI members who serve throughout the Administration.

    As the President reminded us in his proclamation celebrating this month, AAPIs make up “one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse groups in America.” We should celebrate this diversity and also work to make sure that the Federal Government is providing the appropriate level and type of services to these varied communities.

    “We are working across government to improve data collection to counter existing stereotypes and to shed light on the realities faced and resources needed by the AAPI community,” the President also said in his proclamation. 

    As the AAPI population has grown, it has become increasingly clear that AAPI communities vary by immigration patterns, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, wealth accumulation, and much more.

    In order to provide more accurate and meaningful information on the AAPI community to both policymakers and the public, Federal agencies are working to provide disaggregated AAPI data – that is data by individual ethnicities – whenever possible.

    For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s American Housing Survey now includes AAPI subgroup data. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity report includes unemployment rates and other labor force estimates for seven Asian subgroups.

    Here at OPM, our AAPI employee resource group (ERG) engages in a number of activities to support AAPI employees including brown bag luncheons, panels, other internal events for OPM staff, and shares vacancy announcements with its members. We have partnered with our AAPI ERG to encourage and promote participation in career development programs. And, we are looking forward to its upcoming AAPI Heritage Month event on Tuesday, May 24 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This wide-ranging panel discussion on diversity and the Federal workforce will feature some of the talented AAPI leaders in the Administration.

    I encourage all Federal employees to celebrate the contributions our AAPI colleagues make every day to the Federal Government’s ability to fulfill its mission. And we should all encourage more AAPIs to join our Federal family.


    graphic with white background and red bars coming from the top down to the center. Primary image is blue, faded green, with 2 black stars on each side of the headline which reads: PUBLIC SERVICE. Subhead with small red star from onto: RECOGNITION WEEK.

    Last week was another great Public Service Recognition Week. Together, we took time to reflect on the great work our Federal workforce does every day. I am continually impressed by the dedication and commitment our two million-strong Federal workforce has to serving the American people. And here at OPM, whether it’s helping agencies make sure employees have the tools and training they need to do their jobs, administering health benefits for Federal workers, retirees and their families, or helping our nation’s veterans transition into Federal civilian service, our team works hard to help agencies across government fulfill their missions.

    The President said it best in his annual PSRW proclamation: “Civil servants demonstrate resolve and inspire optimism in sectors throughout our country. They are engineers and educators, military service members and social workers, and their individual and collective contributions drive us forward on the path toward an ever brighter tomorrow.  Both at home and abroad, they carry forward the notion that as Americans, we are committed to looking out for one another and to working together to forge a bright future for generations to come.”

    Last week, I co-authored an op-ed with Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. In it we highlighted some of the good work Federal employees do every single day. We know that Federal employees work hard to serve the American people.   Whether it’s processing Social Security checks, fighting wildfires, or searching for the next groundbreaking cancer treatment – Federal employees deliver the services the American people need.

    Many Federal employees do some pretty amazing things in their jobs. In the op-ed, we highlighted a few of this year’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal – or “Sammie” – finalists. Among them were Dr. Paul McGann, Jean D. Moody-Williams, and Dennis Wagner, three Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services employees who have been working tirelessly for the past four years to reduce medical errors and avoidable infections in hospitals. Their efforts have led to 2.1 million fewer patients harmed and 87,000 lives saved.

    We also showcased Lisa Jones of the Department of the Treasury. Lisa designed a program to help low-income communities get access to money to fund health-care centers, charter schools, housing, and small businesses.

    And, I was proud to mention that one of the Sammie finalists is OPM’s own Kimya Lee and our Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey team. Those team members include: Kim Wells, Craig Simons, Rose Miller, Taylor Lewis, Shannon Lewis, Stephanie Westphal, Lauren Sobek, Karl Hess, Mari Raviele, Megan Poore, and Lorraine Latimore. Each year, this talented team analyzes survey data and creates thousands of reports managers can use to help them improve employee engagement and productivity throughout the Federal service.

    There are countless more examples in every Federal agency of employees doing equally innovative and groundbreaking work. Without Federal employees, this country simply would not run. So for that, we should all be grateful. 

    I want to again thank each and every Federal employee for the work you do every day – often behind the scenes – to keep our country running efficiently, safely, and productively.

    Each May, we stop and make time to let Federal employees know how much they are valued and appreciated for the work they do. But even when it’s not Public Service Recognition Week, know that the President, me, and all Federal leaders recognize, honor, and are grateful for the work that you do. 


    Image of a stressed out man in the background with transparent blue cover. Headline: BAN THE BOX.

    Each year, more than 600,000 people are released from Federal and State prisons, and millions more are released from local jails. One in three working-age Americans has an arrest record. Many face long-term, sometimes lifelong, impacts of a criminal record that prevent them from getting a job or accessing housing, higher education, loans, credit, and more.  Such barriers hurt public safety, add costs to the taxpayer, and damage the fabric of our communities. Removing these barriers and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of people who have paid their debt to society is a critical piece of the Administration’s efforts to make the nation’s criminal justice system more fair and effective.  

    This week is National Reentry Week—a chance to call attention to the urgency of criminal justice reform and to highlight the ongoing work across the Federal government to remove barriers to reentry for people returning to their communities. Here at the Office of Personnel Management, we are doing our part.

    Today, OPM issued a proposed rule that would ensure that applicants with a criminal history have a fair shot to compete for Federal jobs. The rule would effectively “ban the box” for a significant number of positions in the Federal Government by delaying the point in the hiring process when agencies can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer is made. This change prevents candidates from being eliminated before they have a chance to demonstrate their qualifications.

    Earlier inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history may discourage motivated, well-qualified individuals who have served their time from applying for a Federal job. Early inquiries could also lead to the premature disqualification of otherwise eligible candidates, regardless of whether an arrest actually resulted in a conviction, or whether consideration of an applicant’s criminal history is justified by business necessity. These barriers to employment unnecessarily narrow the pool of eligible and qualified candidates for federal employment, and also limit the opportunity for those with criminal histories to support themselves and their families.  

    This Administration is committed to pursuing public policies that promote fairness and equality. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government should lead the way and serve as a model for all employers – both public and private.

    The proposed rule builds on the current practice of many agencies, which already choose to collect information on criminal history at late stages of the hiring process. The rule would take the important step to codify, formalize, and expand this best practice.

    There are certain times when an agency might be justified in disqualifying an applicant with criminal history, or collecting information on their background, earlier in the process. Therefore, OPM will set up a mechanism for agencies to request exceptions. These will be granted on a case-by-case basis. These exceptions could be granted either by individual position, or by class of positions, depending on the specifics of the case. For example, cases could include certain law enforcement jobs that require the ability to testify in court, or jobs where applicants undergo extensive and costly training before they are offered a job.

    Banning the box for Federal hiring is an important step. It sends a clear signal to applicants, agencies, and employers across the country that the Federal Government is committed to making it easier for those who have paid their debts to society to successfully return to their communities, while staying true to the merit system principles that govern our civil service by promoting fair competition between applicants from all segments of society.

    To view the proposed rule, you can visit the Federal Register.


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