The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Meeting of September 8, 2003, Washington D.C. on Repositioning for New Realities: Securing EEOC's Continued Effectiveness

Remarks of Marta Brito Pérez, Office of Personnel Management
"Experts on Government Reform: Scanning the external factors driving the need for change"

Good morning everyone -- on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management's Director Kay Coles James, I would like to thank the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for inviting OPM to today's timely discussion. I extend special thanks to Chair Cari Dominguez, Vice Chair Naomi Earp, and Commissioners Paul Steven Miller and Leslie E. Silverman for organizing a public venue where government reform experts, from both the private and public sector, have the opportunity to join together and discuss these important issues.

I am here today to talk about some of the critical issues affecting the management of the Federal workforce. As you know, President Bush identified five critical areas for management reform, with the need for strategic management of human capital as the linchpin. OPM has been leading the Governmentwide effort to transform human capital management so that agencies are held accountable for managing their workforce effectively, efficiently, and in accordance with merit principles. As the "owner"../ of this important initiative in the President's Management Agenda, Director Kay Coles James is committed to providing agencies with all the necessary tools and resources to transform their human capital management planning and practices into tools to help achieve their strategic goals.

A few years ago, most agencies were not engaged in strategic thinking about their current and future workforce needs. We in the human resources world were trapped in narrow, reactive thinking about HR rules and programs, unable to serve as strategic partners. Human capital management was not viewed as a strategic priority related to mission accomplishment.

Although we have a long way to go, we've gained some ground. Agencies have seen the need to be forward-thinking and strategic about human capital management through the efforts of our human capital officers, who are helping them objectively assess their challenges and focus their efforts. Nearly every President's Management Council (PMC) agency now has a comprehensive human capital plan in place, linked to their strategic goals, against which they are executing, and tracking, their efforts.

Today we expect agencies to have:

The increased focus on strategic management of human capital has encouraged Federal agencies to re-assess their mission and goals and how best to accomplish them. One of the major human capital challenges facing Federal agencies is the need to ensure that they have the right skills and competencies ideally deployed in the workforce. Combined with new technology, this re-assessment of agency missions, structures, and workforce skills has created an unprecedented opportunity for true strategic collaboration among agency leaders from every program area.

As I read the recent NAPA report on the EEOC, I was struck by the similarity of the challenges facing the EEOC, OPM and all agencies. We at OPM know first-hand how challenging such fundamental changes can be, because we are not just "talking the talk" -- we have been "walking the walk". OPM has recently undergone its own transformation guided by a focus on our mission as the Government's "people agency"../ and as the agency charged with leading strategic management of human capital within the Federal government. We recently completed a major restructuring to improve our ability to achieve this mission. Part of our restructuring involved the elimination of old functional stovepipes. We have become more customer-focused by assigning Human Capital Officers to work with individual agencies. These "account managers" or "desk officers"../ are charged with helping agencies to assess and implement their human capital management activities and to provide technical assistance and support across HR program areas. They serve as the agencies' key contact and are continually and closely engaged with their agencies to help them design new recruitment strategies, prepare workforce and succession plans, identify needed job-related competencies, obtain and implement appropriate flexibilities, design and implement new performance management plans, and ensure that they are building shared accountability systems and following merit system principles.

OPM also recognizes that smaller agencies have unique needs and often need extra technical support and assistance. Smaller agencies --and there are over 50 of them --now have their own support system within my Division in our Center for Small Agencies, one of five agency-focused human capital management centers. With our reorganization complete, we are better positioned to carry out the Director's commitment to the strategic management of human capital in Federal agencies.

We are:

OPM and every agency must continually be aware of the external factors that can drive the need for change. We must constantly be prepared to address changes in the business environment, demographic shifts that affect the workforce, and evolving customer needs and expectations. Each of these can profoundly impact mission accomplishment.

A better managed Government will not only make us more efficient, it will also make us a more attractive employer. We will be able to attract the highest quality job seekers of every type and at every career stage if they see a motivating and cutting-edge work environment in which they can serve America.

OPM is leading the efforts to make the Federal Government the employer of choice. As part of our overall Working for America strategy, OPM is sponsoring a series of Recruitment Fairs around the country to connect agencies with high-quality, diverse candidates. We see these "recruitment fairs" --not "job fairs"../ --as a mechanism to support the workforce planning and diversity activities of Federal agencies, particularly in addressing under representation in mission critical occupations. We also envision these recruitment fairs as an outlet for providing information on the exciting and varied career opportunities in the Federal service and as a way to leave a lasting and positive impression of the Government as a potential employer -- with members of underrepresented groups, such as minorities, women, and persons with disabilities, as well as the job-seeking population as a whole. . We will kickoff these recruitments fairs in Los Angeles on September 23rd. And, it is my hope that all Federal agencies will join us in this effort.

We are also implementing a government-wide SES Candidate Development Program this fall designed to meet agency executive leadership requirements and support Government-wide succession initiatives. We see this initiative as well as a possible aid in addressing the under-representation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the SES ranks and a key to meeting the needs of our small agencies relating to human capital management and leadership development. We solicited ideas for the design, implementation, and promotion of the program from numerous stakeholder groups, including Executive Women in Government, Federally Employed Women, National Image, the Senior Executives Association, the Asian American Government Executive Network, the American GI Forum, the Small Agency Council, Blacks in Government, and Federal Executive Boards. In addition, a feeder program is being developed to groom individuals at the mid-levels for leadership and readiness for the SES CDP.

These are just two examples of improvements in human capital management that go beyond just having good human resources for its own sake. Strategic management of human capital can help you achieve your mission. The keys to success are to stay focused on the mission and strive for results. The successful transformation of an organization requires:

As we increase the diversity of our workforce it is even more critical that we uphold the ideals of the American workplace and recognize the crucial role the EEOC plays in helping to prevent and eliminate workforce discrimination, and to investigate and adjudicate allegations of discrimination.

The lives and careers of employees, as well as the improvement of government and private employers, depend on your timely assistance and decisions. In order to meet this challenge, EEOC will need a highly skilled workforce, armed with the appropriate tools, working in an environment that promotes effectiveness and efficiency.

OPM will continue to support agencies in every way we can to ultimately improve the way the Government works for its citizens. You've surely heard the old cliché -- "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you." Well, we at OPM really are here to help you! We are judging our success on whether agencies succeed. Using our knowledge and experience in the strategic management of human capital, and what we have learned in our own journey toward organizational transformation, we can support EEOC in your efforts to more clearly define your critical mission and how best to achieve it.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my views with you here today. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.