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On Wednesday, the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became a showcase for the Office of Personnel Management’s initiative to attract the best talent in science, technology engineering and math to Federal service.
This “Datapalooza” was part of a celebration of the incredible work Federal STEM employees do now, and it was also a look to the future as we work to fulfill the President’s vision of growing a diverse, engaged and talented STEM workforce for the future.
Our team leaders here at OPM have forged an amazing partnership with Federal employees from across government and from the private sector. The idea was to find ways to use OPM’s valuable data to understand our current STEM workforce and to provide the tools and resources managers need to help them attract and recruit new STEM talent.
This work is so exciting and so important. Let me tell you about just a couple of the projects.
Ray Parr, OPM’s data guru in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, developed a heat map that shows where our STEM applicants are coming from. His map showed us that the four states contributing the most applicants for Federal STEM jobs are Maryland, Virginia, California and Texas. And, his team produced an applicant dashboard that provides insights into the interests and experiences of job applicants.
At another demonstration, Gary Lukowski, who manages our Data Analysis Group, enhanced the rich data from OPM’s Fedscope with charts and graphs to illustrate the relationships between STEM employees and their agencies. This kind of information will help hiring managers predict trends in the Federal STEM workforce.
We at OPM know that the Federal government is in competition with the private, non-profit and academic sectors for key STEM personnel. One way that OPM, OMB and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are working together to close skills gaps is to remind agencies about some pay flexibilities that can help attract the best talent.
As we say in the Critical Position Pay Authority Memorandum for Chief Human Capital Officer, the critical position pay authority is a potentially underutilized flexibility that can support our efforts. We are encouraging agencies with mission critical STEM positions to better educate agency staff about this opportunity.
Go to the Pay and Leave Flexibilities for Recruitment and Retention Fact Sheet and the Students, Recent Graduates, and Pathways Fact Sheet for additional information on applying to and recruiting for Federal STEM positions.
This exciting STEM event was just the beginning. I am committed to making sure that together with our partners across government, OPM will continue to innovate and expand the tools and resources we provide agencies so they can bring on board the best talent possible to serve the American people.
As I work to make sure we continue to build a model workforce for the 21st Century, I have been traveling around the country meeting with Federal employees, college students, faculty members and community leaders to learn from their experiences. This week, I spent some time in Silicon Valley talking to technology industry leaders about recruiting, retaining and engaging our employees.
What I learned is that cutting-edge companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google share many of the same goals and face many of the same challenges we do. The leaders I met with shared some compelling insights based on their experiences. We also shared best practices that are common to private industry and government.
Like the Federal government, businesses in Silicon Valley are competing for the best talent in their fields. And also like us, they know that attracting and retaining talent is vital. Each company has found its own, innovative way to tackle these challenges. One executive I met with talked about the need to find qualified candidates where they are. Another said that his company uses staff to act as recruiters on their own social networks.
It makes sense in today’s media environment to find ways to reach potential employees across social media platforms. We need to target qualified candidates by using the communications tools that they are already using. In order to recruit the most talented candidates in the hyper-competitive Silicon Valley environment, employers aggressively pursue candidates rather than wait for applicants to come to them.
Just as diversity is one of my highest priorities, the same is true in Silicon Valley. I talked with officials at several companies about how important it is to have a diverse and inclusive workforce. Many of these firms are using similar tactics. Some work with underprivileged and underrepresented communities to cultivate interest in IT and related fields from an early age. Most rely heavily on internship programs as a pipeline for talent. And others turn to advocacy groups to help recruit to underrepresented groups.
Officials at these companies also agree with me that an engaged workforce is vital. They are looking for creative ways to not only improve the workplace culture, but to use that culture to attract talent.
Some technology companies use an equivalent of our Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to provide insights into employee morale and job satisfaction and as a vehicle for employee feedback. Company officials know that employees who believe in their mission and see a collegial workplace will want and encourage others to join them.
These companies really are a lot like the Federal government. We have the same goals and the same challenges. Our collaboration can only help to make our own efforts that more powerful.
My conversations with these companies, and others like them, are just beginning. We have agreed to maintain an ongoing dialogue and to continue to share best practices to help each other be model employers of 21st century.
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