OPM Director Katherine Archuleta

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta Carolyn Kaster/AP

OPM Director to Feds: ‘I Am Here for You’

Katherine Archuleta touts her labor experience, importance of federal workforce in speech to union.

Katherine Archuleta, the relatively new director of the Office of Personnel Management,  vowed on Friday to improve the working experience of federal employees as well as the public’s perception of the government workforce.  

In remarks to federal workers at the closing event of the National Treasury Employees Union annual legislative conference, Archuleta -- who served as chief of staff to President Obama’s first Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis -- boasted her personal ties to unions, including her father’s first job cutting carpets.

“They are at the core of who I am,” Archuleta said, of her ties to organized labor. “My history and my commitment, your wisdom and your commitment, can lay the foundation for collaboration, for respect and for trust. Labor-management collaboration leads to success.”

Archuleta spoke of the need to improve morale at federal agencies -- a murmur of knowing chuckles filled the room when she said the latest Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey “left room for improvement,” causing Archuleta to respond “I know, I hear ya,” -- and previewed an element of Obama’s upcoming fiscal 2015 budget.

The budget, due for release on March 4, will “include measures to improve federal employee training, and support the exchange of training ideas across government,” Archuleta said. Asked to elaborate on the proposal after her speech, the OPM director dodged, saying the details would come out soon.

Archuleta promised to harvest the knowledge of the federal workforce throughout her tenure, telling the audience of federal workers, “I am here for you, and I want to hear from you.”

She noted that she is “focused on how to take the talent, experience and wisdom of our employees and build upon it.”  Archuleta added that she is meeting with the secretaries of all Cabinet-level agencies to accomplish that and improve training, and has received a “tremendous response” from the department heads.

Archuleta concluded her remarks by telling the union members she was committed to serving as the champion of federal employees.

“What I want you to know is that I will do everything in my power to make sure that the American people understand what a talented, what a dedicated and what a loyal federal workforce is on the job,” she said. “I will join you in that effort.”