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News Release

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Addresses the Presidential Classroom

Gives high school students a brief tutorial on the federal civil service and why it is a "noble calling"

Washington, D.C. - During her speech, entitled The Founding Teenagers - What Thomas Jefferson Didn't Know When He Was 18, at the Presidential Classroom's Federal Agency Seminars, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James spoke of her personal involvement in the public arena. She also discussed the important work done by the federal workforce.

James introduced the students to USAJOBS, OPM's web site that millions of job seekers turn to for information about current federal job openings. Since its launch in August 2003, the USAJOBS website has had more than 37 million visits, 366 million pages viewed and 354,107 resumes created and posted to the website.

"Most of you are probably headed to college first, but navigating through the amazing variety of careers available with the government may help you decide on a major," said James. "It is important that you take a look at the USAJOBS website -- -- as you will find at your fingertips over 17,000 jobs available right now with the federal government and a vast array of potential professions."

James credited the use of veterans' preference toward having veterans represent more than one-fourth of full-time, permanent new hires in fiscal year 2002. She went on to describe protecting the merit principles of the civil service as a cornerstone of the agency's work.

"One of the most important jobs I have is to protect the merit principles of the federal civil service. The merit principles are precious - a special trust passed down from generation to generation that ensures young job seekers or people changing jobs in mid-career are hired by the federal government based on their talents and their ability to contribute to the mission of government."

James also informed students about the e-Scholar website (, a joint venture between OPM and the U.S. Department of Education that directs high school and college aged students, parents and career professionals to information on educational opportunities offered by federal departments and agencies.

"When you work for the government, you will benefit from the level playing field that has been established for all Americans interested in working for their country," said James. "Many of you will one day work for the federal government and you will come to know the importance of the Office of Personnel Management, in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, serves as a defender of the merit system and that each and every person interested in serving their country through the civil service will have an equal chance at a job regardless of their race, sex, religion, age or physical handicap."

In closing, James reminded the students: "If you are to be the defenders of freedom in America, you will need extremely high personal and professional standards; you will need to be honest in all you say and do; you will need to consider public service a noble and valued career."

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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