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Washington, DC - United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today led OPM employees in a memorial service to honor those who perished in the tsunami that devastated the Southeastern part of Asia in late 2004.
In her address to OPM employees, Director James stated, "As a bountiful Nation with a great tradition of giving and sharing, we recognize our capacity to help those have lost their families and their livelihoods. As we have during past times of great crisis, the Office of Personnel Management team asked, ‘What can we do to help?'"
As part of the service, Chirachai Punkrasin, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Royal Thai Embassy and H.K.J.R. Bandara, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Sri Lanka will address the service as will Isweni and Zuhani Bakri, an Indonesian couple who lost 500 members of their family in the city of Banda Aceh. Angelika Silva, a Sri Lankan singer and humanitarian, will perform songs of reflection during the service.
Deputy Chief Bandara stated, "Let me start by thanking OPM for having this program. We are grateful to all who have come together to help in our grief. The American people have been very generous, and we are very grateful...as a representative of my country, I thank you all."
On December 30, Director James authorized the use of special workplace solicitation rules enabling federal employees to assist the victims. This authorization allows agency heads to promote charitable giving among employees and to communicate to employees the contact information of organizations providing disaster relief. Federal agencies have moved rapidly to make use of this special solicitation.
Director James informed attendees of the event that $16,000 had already been raised for the Team OPM Tsunami Relief Campaign. She then asked employees to consider what they can do to help, "For the next two weeks, OPM employees may express their concern and support for the victims of this disaster, through direct contributions to the Team OPM Tsunami Relief Campaign, or through contribution pledge cards being distributed throughout the agency." Since that point, another $14,000 has been donated.
Initial reports indicate the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of State, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Education, General Services Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Merit Systems Protection Board, to name a few, have established special solicitation campaigns of their own to assist in the providing of needed relief.
"Federal employees have repeatedly proven themselves to be deeply caring, compassionate individuals as demonstrated by the manner in which they have already opened their hearts to the people of South Asia," the Director added.
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.