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5 Things to Know About Phased Retirement

I’m happy to report that the Office of Personnel Management last month issued its final phased retirement regulations. I know that many agencies and federal employees are eager to take advantage of this new, innovative alternative to traditional retirement.

I think that this new policy, once it is in effect, will meets the needs of employees while allowing managers to continue to tap into the experience, the wisdom and the judgment of our talented federal workforce. Like any policy, it will come with many questions, so let me try to address some of them today.

1. What is it?

Under phased retirement, a full-time employee will be able to work part time and start collecting retirement benefits. Phased retirees must also spend 20 percent of their time mentoring their fellow employees as a way for them to pass on their knowledge and skills to their colleagues. OPM will begin accepting phased retirement applications on Nov. 6.

2. Who can participate?

This is not a one-size-fits-all program. Whether you are eligible will depend on which retirement system you belong to and how many years of service you have.  

3. What do I do if I want to participate?

If you ...

Agoraphobia and the Telecommuter

Labor experts and industry analysts have written at length about the explosion of telecommuting in the last decade. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban workers from telecommuting earlier this year attracted the ire of working moms and other critics who call the work-from-home trend the “inevitable wave of the future.” A growing body of evidence shows that full-time employees who work from home tend to be more productive than their cubicled counterparts, but some say telecommuting promotes disconnection among colleagues.

Just over 3 million Americans qualify as telecommuters, or those who work full-time at home for someone other than themselves. Coincidentally, the same number of Americans also suffer from agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder and the most common type of phobia. Not exactly the fear of open spaces, as the popular definition would have it, agoraphobia is, simply put, the fear of being trapped in a place or situation where you think you can’t escape or get help.

A term first used in 1871, agoraphobia has also been known as “locomotor anxiety” and “street fear.” These names make sense, considering thatmodern wide boulevards first emerged in Paris in the 1870s and, around the same time, technological breakthroughs ...

Reflections on 9/11 and Excellence in Government

As we paused last week to remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, I am reminded of how that event changed so much of our history—including impacting how government moved forward to manage technology and people who care deeply about serving the American people, and working with our international partners to do the same. We learned important lessons on that day, which have carried forward since and will long into the future.

First, a reflection of events from Sep 11, 2001: I was the career deputy adviser on information technology and e-government issues at the Office of Management and Budget. On that day, our office was working closely with the Council for Excellence in Government to host a meeting of international IT leaders—one of the early meetings of chief information officers and equivalent executives from multiple countries, done in partnership with the council. CEG for many years led government, industry, academia, nonprofit and citizen groups generally on technology and management excellence initiatives.

After the plane hit the Pentagon, OMB quickly evacuated its building, as did much of downtown Washington. I recall with great clarity the thousands of people walking in the street, unsure about where to go ...

The Way HR Works Needs to Change

It seems nowadays it is rare to open up an issue of an HR magazine, visit a blog site, or attend an HR show without reading or hearing about big data.

Let’s put this in the context of HR and submit a use case where a high-tech company were to open a new HQ location. HR would be tasked to help drive the decision of picking a new city. In this case, combining census data, salary ranges, educational institution rankings, corporate tax rate, construction costs, traffic data and so on using an algorithm could generate a ranking of the cities based on talent pool data.

But the reality is that most of HR is not ready for this yet. In fact, the vast majority of HR departments are barely ready for “little data”—applying analytics to HR processes captured at the transactional level. Here is why.

1. HR is still focused on business process improvement and automation

According to recent research by Sierra-Cedar (formerly CedarCrestone) as part of the 2013-2014 HR Systems study of over 1200 companies, the top priorities for HR are business process improvements (62%), automation of talent processes (44%), and service delivery improvements (40%).

Business intelligence ...

Guess Where the Government Ranks in Customer Satisfaction?

Most Americans agree that the level of customer service they receive from cable companies and the airline industry is less than stellar. Yet, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, citizens gave even lower marks to the federal government. Only Internet service providers received lower ratings than government.

The federal government’s 2013 ACSI score was 66, two points lower than in 2012. The drop, according to ACSI, was driven by deteriorating satisfaction with agency websites broadly across government.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Government websites are notoriously difficult to navigate, largely because they assume a level of familiarity with agency structures and programs that most Americans understand. In the private sector, however, online commerce is exploding and companies are getting increasingly savvy at making online purchases as easy as one touch of a button, even predicting things you might like and sending you featured items based on your viewing history.

This ease of doing business contrasts starkly with the online visitor’s experience to government websites, where you may be asked to submit the same information several times, if you can submit it all.

To be fair, this is a tough challenge for agencies ...