As part of the special Federal News Radio series, “The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years,” we asked more than two dozen federal agencies — including all of the Cabinet-level agencies — for a list of the three most effective, nonpolitical management initiatives or policies they’ve embarked on over the past four years.
From the responses collected from nine agencies, Federal News Radio narrowed the list down of the top 10 agency initiatives — in the agencies’ own words. Below, read more about the top Office of Personnel Management initiative, as selected by Federal News Radio, as well as other initiatives OPM singled out for recognition.
Hiring Reform (Student Pathways, Diversity and Inclusion, and Disability Hiring)
Hiring reform — The President’s Hiring Reform Initiative has completely overhauled the federal hiring process. First, we have moved to a resume-based system, eliminating anachronisms such as the “KSA essays” and the “rule of 3.” We’ve also substantially cut the average time to hire. Second, in response to Executive Order 13562, we launched the Pathways Programs, which were designed to recruit new talent by creating clear pathways to federal service for students and recent graduates. The federal government needs to recruit top talent, particularly into mission-critical jobs and professional careers where there are skill gaps. Moreover, the federal workforce is aging, and agencies need to build talent pipelines to recruit and retain new talent to better serve the American people. The federal government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates, who infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talent, and unique perspectives. The Pathways Programs give federal agencies flexibility to address critical skill gaps. Hiring managers can hire a broad range of talent from high school to graduate school and cultivate a new generation of experts and leaders. From the applicant perspective, hiring reform has made it easier to find and apply for student internships on USAJOBS and to find meaningful work, career development opportunities, and mentorship.
Disability hiring — As part of the President’s Executive Order 13548 to increase federal hiring of people with disabilities, in February 2012 OPM proposed changes to the rules for hiring people with disabilities. The proposed changes would eliminate the requirement that an applicant supply a certification of job readiness when applying for consideration under a special hiring authority for people with disabilities. This change will remove an unnecessary burden for these individuals when they apply for federal jobs. OPM is in the process of drafting the final rule. In addition, OPM has been working with partner agencies to improve efforts to employ workers with disabilities though increased recruitment, hiring and retention. OPM has identified these efforts as a key component of human resource strategies, and has required and encouraged agencies to adopt an integrated approach involving their Human Resource, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Diversity and Inclusion offices.
Diversity — Finally, the President issued Executive Order 13583, Establishing a Coordinated Government-Wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce (August 18, 2011). The President’s Executive Order recognizes that the commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the federal government as an employer. In order to cultivate high performing organizations for the 21st century, OPM developed the Government-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to ensure that we tap into the rich resources of our eclectic community and ensure fairness and justice in the workplace. Fifty-four agencies have since developed agency-specific Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plans, consistent with the governmentwide plan, to pursue a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion as a key component of their human resources strategies. Agencies are expected to implement practices within their agencies that promote diversity and inclusion for all employees.
Veterans Employment Initiative
The President’s Veterans Employment Initiative, established by Executive Order 13518, provides an unprecedentedly comprehensive approach to improving employment opportunities for veterans in the federal government. The initiative included the creation of the Council on Veterans Employment, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Labor and Veterans Affairs, to advise the President on improving federal employment opportunities for veterans. The initiative produced the governmentwide Veterans’ Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan for FY 2010-2012, which addresses barriers to veterans’ employment in several areas. Veteran Employment Program Offices have been established in the 24 agencies covered by the Executive order. A governmentwide marketing campaign on the value of veteran employees and marketing toolkits have been provided to federal agencies. Web-based training has been provided for HR professionals and hiring managers, and a career development program for student veteran trainees in mission-critical occupations has been established, among other innovations. This Veterans Employment Initiative has resulted in the highest percentage of veterans (28.3 percent of total hires in 2011) hired by the federal government in more than 20 years.
OPM’s current performance management initiatives are important because they further the overarching goal for the federal government to operate in an effective, efficient, and accountable manner. OPM’s current initiatives, related to both the Senior Executive Service (SES) and non-SES performance management, are focused on accountability and results. They emphasize the use of strategies and practices vital to operational success, such as clear performance expectations; frequent formal and informal feedback; reliable, impartial treatment for good and bad performance; and alignment of organizational and employee performance management processes. We believe these initiatives will be effective because they strive to improve the way employees and supervisors engage with each other to jointly work towards organizational goals, and these initiatives promote accountability at all levels of the agency.
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