OPM director calls for regulatory reforms, announces work-life pilot programs

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said at a Tuesday reception kicking off Public Service Recognition Week in Washington that he will move quickly to remove unnecessary regulations and work with the Interior Department and the General Services Administration to create a model series of work-life balance programs at the campus the agencies share in Foggy Bottom.

"If you don't burn out prairie grass, new grass can't come back," Berry said at the event, sponsored by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. He pledged to undertake a "controlled burn" of "a lot of rules and a lot of red tape."

Berry said he wanted to act swiftly to remove regulatory barriers that prevent federal retirees from returning to the agencies where they worked to help with specific projects, and to eliminate rules making it difficult for agencies to retain talented interns. He also called for changes so veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to find jobs that suit their skills and interests in agencies outside the Defense Department.

In addition to pursuing regulatory changes, Berry said he intended to institute dramatic changes at his own agency, beginning with an ambitious reform of work-life balance programs. He said he would give OPM's current work-life programs a grade of D+, "maybe, if I'm being generous."

Berry said OPM would work with Interior and GSA to create a set of model programs for the 7,000 employees who work at the three agencies' headquarters, which are located within blocks of each other in Washington. His goal, he said, was to turn the three workplaces into a "utopia" within 12 months.

Though he did not detail in his remarks the pilot programs he intends to set up, Berry said in an interview afterward that he expects to begin by improving the quality of a health clinic that serves the agencies.

The approach Berry outlined would mirror his approach to work-life balance programs as an assistant secretary at the Interior Department during the Clinton administration. In that position, Berry held a series of town hall meetings to determine employees' needs and based on their suggestions, upgraded the department's cafeteria and health clinic.

The initiative also responds to priorities set by First Lady Michelle Obama, who urged a focus on work-life programs during a visit to OPM in April, and concerns expressed by Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, about the internal management of OPM at Berry's confirmation hearing in March.

"I think the best way you can help other agencies is to get your agency working in terms of management and in terms of employee satisfaction so you can use your agency as a role model," Voinovich told Berry. "You're going to have to spend the next couple of years shaping that joint up."

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    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 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

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