OPM director calls for training feds, diversity

”Davidson”

The federal government works better with a diverse group of employees who are well trained and have workplace flexibility.

But those employees who still fail to perform might find themselves out of work.

Those are some of the points Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry will make Tuesday to federal employees attending the Federal Managers Association conference in Arlington.

Training employees is important in order for the government to keep up with “the way the world does business,” Berry will say, according to an advance copy of his remarks.

Yet, “we all know what happens when budgets are tight. Poof – the training budget disappears, or shrinks down to nearly nothing.”

Berry notes that agencies are finalizing plans this week for increasing diversity and inclusion. He tells the managers “the success of those plans depends on you, and on your implementation.”

The same thing goes with telework. “The potential savings and the increased resilience of our operations – counts on you,” Berry says.

Yet, according to Berry, some managers feel they can’t manage those they can’t see. A survey last year showed “fully a quarter of all workers reported that though their duties would allow them to telework, their supervisor wouldn’t.”

Berry says OPM plans to make sure employees have the technology they need, whether they work from home or in the office, but will stop providing multiple devices for the same employee.

“Some may need a laptop they can take anywhere,” he says in the speech. “Some may need a desktop and a smartphone. Others may need an iPad to be fully effective as they spend all day in the field doing background investigations. Nobody needs all of these things.”

And what about federal employees who don’t perform well, despite training and access to the appropriate technology? They may have to go, according to the personnel chief.

“In my experience, poor performers are few and far between,” Berry says. “But they have an outsized impact, both within organizations and in the eyes of the public. If we don’t do the right thing, if we don’t remove them and replace them with bright, hardworking team members worthy of the public we serve, we are doing a disservice to our agencies and we are providing aid and comfort to those who would attack us, both now and in the future.”

federaldiary@washpost.com

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson. Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.
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