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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the Federal Government. Millions of employees and their family members rely on OPM each day.  OPM provides human resources leadership and support to Federal agencies and helps the Federal workforce achieve their aspirations as they serve the American people. OPM directs human resources and employee management services, administers retirement benefits, manages health and other insurance benefit programs, and oversees merit-based and inclusive hiring into the civil service. The agency also promotes the efficiency and integrity of Government services through personnel vetting policies and processes for a trusted workforce.

OPM is uniquely positioned to help rebuild, empower, and support the Federal workforce over the next few years. OPM workforce development policies will be pivotal as Federal agencies and their workforce continue to serve the American people in numerous capacities, from providing health care and benefits to veterans, delivering social security and other benefits to seniors, and investing in innovative research to support public health. Over the last several decades, the Federal government has endeavored to become more performance-based—not only in its own work, but also in its approach to regulation.  With a digital transformation taking place across all sectors, including the public sector, success hinges on the ability to manage and leverage data as a strategic asset.  Government data is a critical national asset that informs the policies, programs and services delivered by Federal agencies. Managing data strategically can maximize its value by improving decision-making, program evaluation, and customer experiences for accessing government services and data.   

A performance-based culture thrives on data and evidence. The skills necessary to build, manage, and interpret evidence are foundational to this transformation in public sector management.  As such, the Federal government must ensure that the workforce has the necessary data skills to improve data collection, management, analysis, sharing, and dissemination.  In its central role leading Federal agencies in people management policies and programs, OPM has an opportunity to improve the data skills of the Federal workforce through government-wide hiring actions and the development of a framework for data competencies that will assist agencies in better harnessing the power of data.

Data is also a critical resource for OPM as it positions itself as the Nation’s premier provider of human capital data. The ability to harness OPM’s many strategic data assets plays a key role in opening new insights to drive evidence-based policymaking and build progressively more intelligent products and services for Federal agencies, employees, and partners. The agency collects and maintains data on applicants who apply for positions within the Federal Government and the 2.1 million current Federal employees across 430 Federal departments, agencies, and sub agencies; 8.1 million Federal and Postal employees and annuitants and their family members, with $59 billion annually on FEHB premiums; and 2.7 million Federal retirees and annuitants, with $88.1 billion paid annually to annuitants.

Given that OPM collects data on the Federal civilian workforce across the employee lifecycle, from recruiting to employment to retirement, the agency has a historic opportunity to become a hub for delivering data-driven policy, enhanced analytics, data standards and digital solutions that together are key enablers for strategic human capital management across the Federal government.  OPM and Federal agencies can harness the power of data for advanced analytics and personalized digital-first tools while ensuring the data is accessed securely and with privacy-protecting measures in place. OPM can increase interoperability between agencies by implementing common data standards and templates that all Federal departments can adopt. And OPM can better leverage existing data to power a personalized customer experience that better serves our customers.

These strategic opportunities align with new Federal-wide data and evidence-building initiatives and requirements.  The Federal Data Strategy Action Plans for 2020 and 2021, Strategy 4 of the Workforce Priority of the President’s Management Agenda, and OPM’s strategic plan also require agencies to assess data and related infrastructure maturity, identify opportunities to increase staff data skills, identify data needs to answer priority agency questions, and identify priority data sets for agency open data plans. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act requires, among other things, open government data assets be published as machine-readable data, that agencies develop and maintain a comprehensive data inventory for all data assets created by or collected by the agency, and that agencies designate a Chief Data Officer (CDO). The CDO shall be responsible for lifecycle data management and for ensuring that, to the extent practicable, the agency maximizes the use of data for the production of evidence, cybersecurity, and the improvement of agency operations through strategies that improve agency practices related to data governance, data analysis, data sharing, data inventorying, and data skills development. An enterprise approach to data governance will also help protect the privacy and security of the data assets under OPM’s stewardship.  Our OPM Data Strategy for FY23-26 outlines the steps the agency will take to pursue these key opportunities for better leveraging Federal human capital data as a strategic asset.

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