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OPM Director Envisions More Influence for Human Capital Officers

Memo cites importance of interagency council as the Trump administration prepares push for civil service reform.

The head of the Office of Personnel Management urged agencies on Monday to appoint qualified chief human capital officers to serve on an advisory council, and he announced plans to increase the influence of the group in shaping federal workforce policy.

In a memorandum to departments, OPM Director Jeff Pon cited both President Trump’s management agenda and plans to advocate for broad civil service reform in the coming years as reasons he wants to bring renewed “focus” to the Chief Human Capital Officers Council. Pon is chairman of the council. 

“We must meet the needs of the workforce of the 21st century by actively managing the workforce, developing agile operations and acquiring top talent,” Pon wrote. “With major civil service reforms, information technology modernization efforts, and changes to various federal benefit programs under consideration, I need the advice and assistance of the most senior management officials in planning and implementing human capital initiatives.”

In recent days, OPM has announced plans to hold agencies accountable for poor employee engagement and performance, as well as identify a list of best practices for incentives to reward, recruit and retain high performers. Pon also has instructed agencies to remove “non-statutory steps from the discipline process” by 2019.

Officials appointed to serve as agency chief human capital officers should be “very senior-level,” have the trust of the agency leader and represent an “integral part of the leadership team,” Pon said. “The CHCO should share accountability with the other members of the leadership team for the agency’s bottom line performance, mission results, accountability and best use of taxpayer money.” 

The next CHCOC meeting is slated for May 1, and Pon said he plans to hold meetings “periodically” to discuss civil service issues. The memo instructed agencies to confirm their designees for the council to OPM by Friday.