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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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