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The Biden Blueprint for the Future of Work

OPM Director Kiran Ahuja explains how the President’s Management Agenda will create an equitable and accountable government that will deliver results for all Americans.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we face very real challenges as a nation and that the federal government is uniquely positioned to tackle those challenges head-on for the American people. From deploying a life-saving vaccine, to supporting small businesses with vital loans, to investing in essential infrastructure and services, the federal government is delivering for the American people.

Key to those efforts is an incredible federal workforce.   

President Biden recognizes how vital federal workers are. He made it crystal clear when he signed two Executive Orders charged with protecting the federal workforce during his first week in office. He built on that progress last week with the release of the vision framework for his President’s Management Agenda, a plan to create an effective, equitable and accountable government that delivers results for all Americans. The first priority of the PMA is to ensure the federal workforce is strong, empowered and well-equipped to deliver for the American people. The PMA serves as a blueprint to honor the contributions of current federal workers and to attract top talent to join them going forward. The President understands the future of work—and the future federal workforce—is being defined by decisions made today. As director of the Office of Personnel Management, with key responsibilities to enact this vision, I couldn’t be prouder of this agenda for federal workers and the American people.  

As President Biden often says, a job is about more than a paycheck—it’s about dignity.

That’s why we’re working to ensure every federal job is a good job, where all employees are engaged, supported, heard and empowered, with opportunities to learn, grow and thrive throughout their careers. The federal government has a rich history of serving as a pathway to the middle class. We don’t just want to live up to that legacy, we want to build on it. We’re providing decent pay, quality benefits and continuous opportunities for professional development. We’re also actively encouraging union participation among federal employees so their voices can be heard in their workplace. And we’re making diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility central to all aspects of our work. We want every service-minded American to feel welcome contributing their talents to the civil service. By drawing on the broad range of backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences of the American people, we become better equipped to meet America’s needs in the process.

And never has the need to recruit strong, diverse talent into the federal workforce been more pressing.  Earlier this week, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness creates new opportunities for job seekers to pursue along with new positions for agencies to fill quickly. The PMA will improve the federal hiring process and help us attract early-career professionals who bring cutting edge skills and fresh perspectives. It will also help us define the future of work with lessons learned from the past two years. Because while COVID-19 upended old work norms, it also created new ones. Flexibilities like telework, remote work and alternative work schedules make the federal government more agile and resilient, allowing us to stay competitive in the talent market. 

Priorities like these—jobs with dignity, a diverse and talented workforce, and flexible work arrangements—are important because the federal government has a unique opportunity to serve as a model employer. Throughout the country and the world, the federal government employs more than 4 million Americans, including over 2 million in the federal civilian workforce. Federal employees—and millions of others working in every sector across the economy—are impacted by the example we set. President Biden’s vision is for a federal government that carries out these principles and sets the bar high for others to follow.

It’s a point of pride for me, and everyone else working at OPM, that we support the federal workforce every day. Agencies need a partner for hiring and retaining the best workforce to enact the president’s vision across the federal government—OPM is that partner, and we are proud to work as hard for civil servants as civil servants do for the American people. The priorities in the PMA will help us honor their hard work and build out this vital workforce to meet America’s needs for decades to come. Every American has a vested interest in the success of the President’s Management Agenda—this government is our government, and the federal workforce’s successes are our successes too.

Kiran Ahuja is director of the Office of Personnel Management.