The View From OPM

Timothy B. Clark

Linda Springer focuses on helping federal workers.

The executive branch's staffing situation has been on the Government Accountability Office's list of government's highest-risk problems for six years, and there it should remain, says Linda Springer, who is in a position to know.

As director of the Office of Personnel Management, she has a bird's-eye view of the 1.8 million-person civil service, and retirement trends give her cause for worry. Until all major agencies devise effective plans to replace those whose expertise soon will be lost, government's ability to operate effectively will be at risk, she says.

From a 10,000-foot level, Springer is doing what she can to ease the problem. She has rolled out more commercials about government service that will run in prime time in cities such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Raleigh. The message is that working for government is interesting, and good for the country, and the ads have generated traffic at the USAJOBS.gov Web site. Springer is unveiling a Web initiative aimed at university campuses: about 10 Webinars of panels discussing various types of jobs and careers in government. Soon, these taped sessions will be a couple of clicks away for students who might be interested in government work.

One wonders if ads featuring civil servants-a NASA microbiologist and a Homeland Security Department physical security specialist, for example-can do much to attract the talent government needs. Still, they provide air cover for agencies looking to fill specialized jobs in, for instance, the key administrative functions of technology, finance and acquisition. Top officials have been troubled enough about the IT workforce to have commissioned a governmentwide skills assessment and study of how to fill the gaps. At events this spring co-sponsored by Government Executive and the National Academy for Public Administration, ranking finance and acquisition officials voiced deep concern about maintaining capable workforces.

Elsewhere in government, the intelligence community worries about retaining young recruits who can be turned off by bureaucracy and tempted by high-paying contractors' efforts to lure away those with security clearances. And in the unglamorous but important world of rule-making, expert scholar Cornelius M. Kerwin of American University has called for more intensive training of civil servants whose work affects many aspects of our economy.

As we talked in her office in mid-May, Springer reserved judgment on proposals to establish a new Public Service Academy, modeled after the military academies, but she doesn't support offering "favored class" job guarantees at the expense of other people in the U.S. workforce. Beyond the recruitment initiatives, Springer is concentrating her efforts on improving conditions and services for federal employees. She proposes legislation to make it easier to bring back federal retirees, and to give people more opportunity to move from full-time to part-time employment, without reducing pensions. She's also hoping to advance a plan for short-term disability insurance, to include maternity leave.

With these legislative initiatives, and with an ambitious plan to convert 150,000 file drawers of retirement papers into accessible electronic files for federal annuitants, she is taking a praiseworthy practical view of what she can get done in the waning tenure of the Bush administration.

Tim Signature
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.