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News Release

Friday, August 15, 2003
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Hires 14 Senior Executives in 49 Days

Agencies Encouraged to Streamline Internal Hiring Processes

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to demonstrate federal hiring does not need to take 6 months or longer, the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Kay Coles James, hired 14 new Senior Executive Service (SES) members as part of a broad agency restructuring, and did so within 49 days. From application to hire, the action is in line with James' commitment to hire "top-notch" executives within a more reasonable amount of time.

In addition, the new hires came from all sectors - public, private and military - and with years of experience. Their expertise includes a wide range of policy and personnel operations related to homeland security, the Department of Defense, security issues, leadership development, contracting and healthcare. During the previous year, OPM hired eight other senior executives using a 30 day hiring model.

"After September 11, 2001, millions of Americans heard the call to public service. We owe it to those interested in serving the nation and seeking a career change to manage a fair process and make fast decisions based on merit. Delays in the hiring process are unnecessary, create a negative impression of government and deter qualified Americans from serving their country," James added.

In a memo to heads of departments and agencies on hiring executive talent (April 17, 2002) James laid out a plan for streamlining the SES staffing process and committed to act quickly so the federal government doesn't lose quality candidates, stating, "Since becoming OPM Director, I have received many complaints that filling SES jobs takes too long and is too complicated. I am committed to changing that and to meeting the legal requirement that the SES selection process reaches out to an extensive pool of candidates, assess candidates' executive qualifications, and ensures selections are based on merit."

"A key part of our recent efforts were at the recruiting stage," James added. "As I have stated before, I remain actively committed to reaching out to a diverse group of candidates."

The individuals hired are as diverse as they are talented, truly representing a cross-section of America, resulting from OPM's aggressive recruitment efforts. Of the SES hired, 35% come to OPM from the private sector; 64% come directly from government; 21% are veterans; and 50% are minorities or women.

James also stated in the 2002 memo that, "This effort to improve the SES hiring process is the first step of a larger initiative aimed at overhauling all the systems the (federal) government uses to attract, evaluate and appoint talent. ‘Strategic Management of Human Capital' is the first initiative in the President's Management Agenda, and your agency's success in recruiting and retaining talented employees will be central to its success."

The recent OPM SES hiring process was quick and decisive and maintained the federal government's commitment to fairness and the Merit System principles. No time was wasted in bringing the new team on board. Offers were made to individuals across the globe - from one traveling to India to another in Kuwait en route to Baghdad.

OPM is encouraging agencies to make SES leadership/managerial competencies be the foundation of the recruitment process -- not narrow technical, professional, or agency-specific qualities; have executive resources boards act quickly on statutory responsibility for evaluating SES candidates; and, give Human Resources Offices the resources they need for staff development and program delivery.

The new Senior Executives are tasked with the critical assignments of carrying out OPM's critical missions and ensuring that OPM has the knowledge and skills needed to implement personnel policy.

The OPM hires include:

To the Division for Human Resources Products and Services Associate Director Stephen Benowitz

Dr. Michael Beckmann, PhD, Director, Presidential Management Intern Program

Dr. Beckmann has arrived at OPM from teaching assignments at The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Marymount University's School of Business Administration. Beckmann's corporate HR experience includes positions as Vice President of Human Resources for Lafarge North America, the world's largest cement producer, and divisional HR Manager for Caterpillar, Inc. In addition, Dr. Beckmann was the senior compensation analyst for the Mobil Oil Corporation. An Army veteran from 1981-1985, Michael held the rank of Captain and also served 11 years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Robert Danbeck, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Leadership Capacity Services
Danbeck's most recent position was as Vice President of Human Resources (HR) for IBM India Ltd. As part of IBM India's transition from a joint venture with a local Indian firm, Danbeck was charged with putting in place the full range of worldwide IBM HR policies and programs, including management development and retention programs. He has previous experience with IBM in China where he led a multifunction HR team and orchestrated the successful transition from a U.S. operating team to local national management.

Linda Petersen, Assistant Director, Examining and Consulting Services Group
Petersen has spent a long and highly successful career at OPM and its predecessor agency, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, working to deliver and manage services to agencies throughout the country across several program areas including staffing, training and development, and compliance and evaluation. For the past several years she has had responsibility for managing human resources assistance and consulting service delivery throughout the Western and Southwestern states, Hawaii, and the Pacific Rim. At the same time, she was nationwide program director for OPM's workforce planning and restructuring services. She managed the San Francisco Region's successful transition from a traditional government operation to an entrepreneurial, reimbursably funded organization and is ideally suited to lead OPM's nationwide examining and consulting services.

Dr. Thomas Towberman, PhD, Director, Federal Executive Institute
Dr. Towberman previously served as Senior Advisor for Learning and Knowledge Management here at OPM. As Senior Advisor, he was responsible for institutionalizing a culture of continuous learning and ensuring that the Federal leadership corps has the training to implement the President's Management Agenda. In particular, he directed efforts to reinvigorate and redesign the Presidential Management Intern Program, the Federal Government's elite leadership development program. Towberman has more than 30 years of experience creating and directing high performance organizations in both the public and private sectors, having served on the full-time graduate faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. He served as Commissioner of Virginia's Employment Commission for 6 years where he worked to streamline access to state civil service jobs for Virginia citizens. He was Executive Director of the Virginia Commission on Government Reform and also has experience as president of a Richmond-based management consulting firm.

To the Division for Strategic Human Resources Policy Associate Director Ronald Sanders

Abby Block, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Employee and Family Support Policy

Block is well known for her expertise in the field of employer-sponsored benefits both inside and outside government. She earned both a Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Social Work from Columbia University before joining OPM as a Presidential Management Intern in 1979. In addition to her long-standing efforts in leading the design and continuous improvement of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Block provided crucial leadership in introducing health insurance premium conversion, establishing Federal Long Term Care Insurance, and implementing Flexible Spending Account programs for Federal employees.

Leah Meisel, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Talent and Capacity Policy
Since 2001, Meisel had served at the FBI as Personnel Officer and Deputy Assistant Director for Personnel, becoming part of their key management team. Meisel was responsible for the Human Resources Management program for the FBI's workforce and was the Deputy Director for Human Resources at the Department of Defense's Finance and Accounting Service.

Hughes Turner, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Leadership and Executive Resources Policy
Turner has honed his leadership skills in various Army organizations ranging from a platoon of 45 combat soldiers to a brigade force of over 2,000 soldiers. Since 2001, he has been on the frontlines of the War on Terrorism as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Commanding General for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Turner also has special skills in national security policy. He will join OPM upon retirement as an Army Colonel after spending the last 20 months in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To the Division for Human Capital Leadership and Merit System Accountability Associate Director Marta Brito Perez

David Amaral, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Small Agencies HC Management

Amaral's portfolio includes government and military service. As the Director of Civilian Personnel Programs, Amaral managed the implementation of the President's Management Agenda for the U.S. Marine Corps. He oversaw all aspects of human resources management for a workforce of 25,000, including civil service and foreign national employees. He was also the architect of the successful "Civilian Marine" program designed to build teamwork among the military and civilian workforce. Additionally, Amaral was integral to training centralization and infrastructure building at the U.S. Customs Service.

Alan Cigich, Deputy Associate Director, Center for National Security HC Management
Cigich has been a chief human resources officer and business leader for over two decades. Prior to OPM, Cigich worked with companies having $10 billion revenue with 50,000 employees including Ingersoll Rand, Delta and Goodrich Aerospace. He also has extensive global experience, with a record of improving financial performance of companies within diverse industries. Cigich also directed Human Resource and security processes at Rockwell International.

Joseph Riddle, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Natural Resources HC Management
Riddle has spent the past 30 years at OPM in several capacities and geographic locations. During his tenure at OPM in Washington DC, Riddle was responsible for major change efforts as part of the agency's restructuring initiative and overseeing OPM's internal implementation of the President's Management Agenda. He also undertook assignments to manage the Federal Executive Institute and Presidential Management Intern Program. Riddle was responsible for implementing and providing policy guidance and direction for the Senior Executive Service Learning Center within OPM's Office of Executive Resources. He has also had extensive management experience in OPM's management development and investigations programs. He is a Vietnam veteran having served with the Army 4th Infantry Division in 1968-69.

Jeffrey Risinger, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Human Resources HC Management
Risinger brings many years of experience in human resources management in a variety of organizational settings. Prior to joining OPM, he was the Corporate Director of Human Resources at CLECO Corporation, a national energy company, where he was responsible for all human resources activities. At CLECO, Risinger converted all corporate insurance plans to a self-funded status resulting in the annual savings of $600,000. Risinger also worked for the Emerson Electric Company as the Director of Human Resources and International Paper Company as a Human Resources Manager. Additionally, Risinger was responsible for Training and Development for EEO/AA and Labor Relations at Georgia Pacific. He holds an MBA from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Shelley Thomas, PhD, Deputy Associate Director, Center for Merit System Compliance
Previously, Dr. Thomas worked at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the Human Factors Scientific Director for the Air Traffic Planning and Procedures Office. At the FAA, Thomas played a key role in seeing that significant personnel reforms granted to the agency by Congress in 1996 were fairly implemented. Thomas also was a research scientist on the Retention Team at the Manpower and Personnel Utilization Laboratory for the U.S. Army Research Institute.

And to the Division for Management and Chief Financial Officer Associate Director Clarence Crawford

Kay Ely, Senior Advisor for Competitive Sourcing

Ely formerly served in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as senior executive in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and in the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Procurement Manager. Ely comes to OPM from Acquisition Solutions, Inc., where she served as the senior acquisition and strategic initiative consultant to federal clients.

Eduardo Ribas, Assistant Director, Human Capital Management Services Group
Prior to joining OPM, Ribas spent 4 years at the National Institutes of Health as Director of the Workforce Management Division, where he managed all aspects of program and policy development including staffing and recruiting. In this position, Ribas created innovative strategies which resulted in hiring 1,000 new scientific and administrative employees to support the President's bio-defense strategy. Additionally, Ribas served as the Human Resources Program and Policy Team Leader at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Chief of Human Resources at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.

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