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Biden Administration Unveils Management Vision That Rests on Empowering Federal Employees

Other top priorities include serving citizens equitably, and improving the federal acquisition and financial management systems.

Strengthening and empowering federal employees, and attracting and retaining talent amid the “fierce” competition in the job market, will be among the leading principles in the Biden administration’s upcoming management strategy that was announced on Thursday. 

The Office of Management and Budget, along with the President’s Management Council launched the Biden-Harris administration’s Management Agenda Vision, which is part of a multi-stage and multi-year strategy to improve how the federal government operates and earn citizens’ trust. 

“We stand at an inflection point today, one marked by historic challenges: a global pandemic that has devastated families and exacerbated longstanding inequities, an economy still recovering from the disruption of the virus, a climate crisis that poses an existential threat, and many more,” said President Biden in the introductory letter to the report on the management vision. 

“The President’s Management Agenda is a blueprint for our government to deliver for Americans the government they deserve as we continue to build back better,” he continued. “While we have plenty of work ahead to build an equitable, effective and accountable government that delivers results for all, we are building on a strong foundation, and the possibilities before us are limitless.” 

The management agenda will be centered around the following priorities: strengthening the federal workforce; delivering equitable services and customer experiences; and improving the federal acquisition and financial management systems.  

Under the first priority, specific strategies include: attracting and hiring the most qualified federal employees who reflect the country’s diversity; ensuring employees are supported, empowered, and have the ability to join a union; reimagining what the workplace looks like based on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic; and building the personnel system necessary for the federal government to stay a “model employer.” 

The report on the management vision notes that “today less than 7% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30 and nearly 28% of federal employees are eligible to retire in the next five years.” Therefore, due to the anticipated retirements and increasing need for new skills “this is a significant risk to our mission effectiveness and the long-term health of federal agencies.” 

Jason Miller, OMB deputy director for management, noted on a briefing call with reporters, “the competition for talent in the labor market is fierce and in the face of the pandemic, employers are adapting.” In addition to the age disparities, federal employee “morale and engagement scores on average are below those of other sectors,” so “we have work to do.” 

The section on the future of work reflects the guidance the Office of Personnel Management released last week, which encourages a permanent expansion of telework and other flexible work options. 

Much of what is in the report reflects the executive orders Biden has issued and other actions his administration has taken over the past almost 10 months.

“Next steps to advance the [president’s management agenda] will be announced over the coming weeks and months,” said OMB in a press release. “OMB and the [President’s Management Council] will identify leaders for each priority area who will establish teams and structures to implement their respective priority areas, leveraging substantial efforts already underway.”

The Trump administration released its first presidential management agenda in March 2018, which was a little over a year after coming into office. 

Biden has yet to name a nominee for OMB director. Under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act, there is no limit for how long an acting OMB director can serve. Government Executive asked on the briefing call if there were any updates on a nominee for OMB director and if there were any concerns in not having permanent leadership. 

Miller noted that acting OMB Director Shalanda Young is currently taking some time off to be with her newborn, and he is managing the day-to-day responsibilities. “We have a fantastic team here at OMB across the entirety of the [Executive Office of the President],” he said. “We’re confident in where we are and we’re getting a lot of stuff done.”