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March 11, 2014
As prepared for delivery
Good morning FMA. Thank you Pat for inviting me to speak at your 76th annual national convention and management training seminar. And thank you for your more than 30 years of Federal service. You’re a fellow westerner!
President Obama appointed Pat to sit on the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations, a council I have the honor of co-chairing with Beth Cobert from OMB. Pat, I am grateful for your service on that Council and look forward to working closely with you over the next few years.
Katie, I understand you are retired after 30 years at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in California. Congratulations. Thank you for your Federal service and your continued dedication as FMA’s national treasurer.
And Dick, I’m told you are stepping down from FMA’s executive board after 10 years and that you have been a member for more than 30 years. I’m sure the association appreciates your many years of dedication. And thank you for your service at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York.
First and foremost I want to thank you all for being here today. And I want to thank you for the hard work you do every day on behalf of the American public. Most importantly, I want to thank FMA for advocating for the interests and concerns of more than 200,000 front line managers throughout the Federal government.
As our front line managers, we place a whole lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. You are vitally important to the continued and future success of our world-class workforce. Every day, you come to work and you execute the many complicated and challenging missions of the Federal government. And you ensure the highest level of performance from our employees.
Now I know that times have been difficult, especially for the Federal workforce. There’s been a sequester, pay freezes, furloughs, a government shutdown. All of this while we are asking you as managers to motivate and deliver on the important services we provide to the American people.
As you know, last week the President issued his 2015 budget proposal. It reflects the tight fiscal times we face and will continue to face going forward. The President has proposed a 1 percent pay increase for 2015. That will mean two years of pay raises. And it continues to move us away from pay freezes.
I believe we are on the right path.
And as the Director of OPM I want you to know that I will continue to talk with you and groups like yours throughout the Federal service about the challenges we face and how we will continue to confront them together. And as we go forward in our discussions, I want you to know how important I believe it is that we provide you and your employees with the training, with the tools and with the processes you need to provide excellent service to the American people.
I am here today to tell you we are focused and we are committed to training in the Federal government.
The President’s budget proposal includes measures to improve Federal employee training and in particular to support an exchange of training ideas across government.
We can learn from each other what works and how to share our successes. We can use OPM’s innovation lab and learning center to test out new ways of engaging and motivating employees and push those new ideas out across government.
Last week we had a kick-off event on an initiative called GovConnect. This is part of the President’s Second Term Management Agenda goal of making sure we are developing an inclusive and collaborative Federal workforce.
The GovConnect expo showcased some innovative, cost-effective and engaging projects agencies are working on together. Such models get us away from the traditional organizational silos that often stifle such innovation. At HUD, for example, employees used a program called Innovation Time to spend up to four hours a week working on projects they were passionate about. One HUD team in the field used Innovation Time to create an App that helps people in several metropolitan areas find affordable housing.
We need to replicate such innovation. I have asked the CHCO Council to work with you and the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations on improving employee engagement across government just like we’re seeing at GovConnect.
This is something I am focused on. That’s why I was so proud of what we were able to present to the agency leaders at the GovConnect kickoff.
Today you will be having two panels on subjects that go to the heart of my priorities as the Director of OPM – employee engagement and diversity and inclusion. I applaud you for including these topics on your agenda. It shows that we share a determination to do better.
Your panel on strategies to increase employee engagement concerns the challenge we face as leaders on how to improve morale in the workplace. The most recent EVS results showed that we have room for improvement when it comes to employee satisfaction. But it showed us something else. It showed us that 90 percent of Federal employees continue to be willing to put in extra effort. They want to contribute new ideas, new thinking and suggest strategies to improve our service to the American people.
Most mornings I make phone calls to employees to learn first-hand what they like, that’s the easy question. And frankly, I ask them what don’t like about their jobs. I ask them what makes them get out of bed in the morning and come to work. I ask them what we can do to help them do their jobs better. The employees I call talk to me about how they value the work they do.
They talk about their colleagues, and they talk about you. The happiest employees are the employees with managers who care about them. They talk about how they like to come to work every day because the environment they work in is one that promotes their success.
Right now employees at OPM are in the process of responding to a Pulse Survey. I asked my staff to create a quick questionnaire that we hope will help us understand how we can improve the OPM workplace. And the response has been terrific.
Employees across government are looking to their leaders, all of you in this room and your colleagues across government to support their efforts and to engage with them to move forward.
I got the first hint of our Pulse Survey yesterday. There are things we need to be doing right away and there are things we can be doing right away. I’m anxious to see the full results of our survey. I know our employees care as much as I do about their success. They are looking to me and to you for that success.
All of you in this room and your colleagues across government must support their efforts and engage with them to move forward. And you are looking to me and your executives to do the same for you. I hear you.
This has to start from the moment someone is thinking about applying for a Federal job. We must make sure that they and you are engaged and included. They must know that we will focus on their development - and yours.
From resume to retirement, we need to have the people and the processes in place to support our Federal workforce. Federal workers must be able to see a clear, attainable career path. And when a Federal worker applies for retirement, we must process that retirement efficiently and without delay.
A major tool that will help guide such efforts will be OPM’s Strategic IT plan, which will be released later today. You may remember that at my confirmation hearing I promised to assess the state of IT at OPM and develop a plan within 100 days of being sworn in. My staff presented the plan to me before that deadline.
This plan is a vision for the future of IT at OPM that will allow us to put in place the kind of systems that will help you and other managers and employees succeed. It will reduce redundancy, leverage limited resources more efficiently and improve collaboration. We will also be able to serve our customers – all of you – with greater accountability and cost savings.
OPM is the central repository for a wealth of data on Federal employees. The IT plan will help us improve how we analyze and share that data to you so that your workforce planning is based on the most up-to-date information. That will allow us to assist your agencies with strategic workforce planning. And that will help you to recruit and hire a talented and diverse Federal workforce to serve the American people.
It will be up to you to groom and mentor our future leaders so that when you retire or move on, as we are all doing, we have a well-trained and engaged next generation of leaders.
This afternoon, Bruce Stewart, who is the Deputy Director of OPM’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will talk to you on another very important matter: how we increase and maintain diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Thank you Bruce for sharing the work you and the team at OPM do.
When I talk about diversity, I don’t just mean ethnic and racial diversity. I want to make sure that people of all ages, people with disabilities and people from every corner of this great country have opportunities.
For example, March is National Women’s History Month. It’s a time for us to recognize the accomplishments and legacies of women who have shaped our great country’s history. And we must continue to make sure that we are mentoring, nurturing and helping women to reach their full potential in the Federal workforce.
Whether we’re recruiting students from colleges and universities or people in the middle of their careers who want a new challenge or senior executives who can bring time-tested skills to the workforce, these are efforts that are very, very important to me. And I want to work closely with you to make that happen.
If we are leaving talent on the table. If there are people we are not reaching successfully. Or if there are barriers that prevent a group from contributing their labor and their wisdom to the Federal workforce, then we are missing out. Then we are not doing our jobs.
As I travel around the country to meet with Federal workers, with local leaders, with students at colleges and universities, I will do everything I can to make sure that the American people fully understand how the work you do impacts their daily lives.
You and your fellow federal workers protect the safety of the food supply. You stand guard over the nation’s borders. You provide care to our veterans. You protect our environment. You enforce our laws. You seek out cures for dreaded diseases.
I am your champion!
I learned the value of public service from my family. Because it started with conversations at the dinner table about what was going on in our community, our nation. I carried those values with me as a school teacher, when I worked for the city of Denver, in my work with non-profit community groups and in my Federal service at the Departments of Transportation, Energy and Labor.
That history and those experiences are very important to me. They are at the core of who I am. All of you made exactly the same decision to spend your careers serving the people of this great nation.
Thank you for that commitment. Thank you for the work that you do each and every day. I will be making sure that the American people know who you are. I will be shouting you out. I will be giving you a high five. I will be singing your praises everywhere I go. Because you are the leaders of the largest employer in the United States.
Together, we must continue to make sure that the Federal service is THE model workforce for the 21st Century. Together, I know that we can make that happen.