The Office of Personnel Management last week announced a plan aimed at improving the representation of Hispanics in the federal workforce.
OPM Acting Director Janice Lachance said the plan's goal is to recruit greater numbers of qualified Hispanic Americans for federal service and improve their opportunities for management and senior executive positions.
"As we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, it is fitting that all agency heads and managers pause to recognize that much needs to be done to assure equality in federal employment for all citizens of the United States," Lachance said at a Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off event sponsored by Energy Secretary Federico Pena.
In 1996, Hispanics made up 10.5 percent of the total U.S. labor force, but only 6 percent of the federal workforce. Currently, only 2.3 percent of Senior Executive Service members are Hispanic Americans.
Under the new plan, OPM will work with agencies and educational institutions to identify job opportunities for Hispanics. OPM also plans to use the Presidential Management Intern program and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities internship program to recruit and hire more Hispanic college students.
OPM said it would help agencies develop mentoring programs to encourage young Hispanics to enter federal careers and promote the participation of Hispanics in leadership development programs.
Manuel Olivierez, president of the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives, said he was "very pleased" with OPM's initiatives.
"I think they are very timely, and they catch the mood of the capital during National Hispanic Heritage Month," said Olivierez.
The most important part of the initiative is the emphasis on student programs, he said. "It feeds into the pipeline of the future and reaffirms that there is a place for minorities in the educational system," he said.
However, Olivierez urged government leaders to pursue other initiatives that would help increase employment opportunities for Hispanics.
"Nothing happens overnight," he said. "It's a process. This is another grain of sand in a pile of change."