OPM data strategy outlines plan to ‘rebuild and empower’ federal workforce

The Office of Personnel Management is outlining its data goals for the next few years, as part of its latest data strategy,

The Office of Personnel Management is outlining its data goals for the next few years, as part of its latest data strategy,

OPM, in its fiscal 2023-2026 data strategy, released earlier this month, is focused on developing a federal workforce that’s proficient in data and analytics skills across all agencies.

OPM is setting a goal to create an enterprise analytics platform, and to break down data siloes and promote information sharing.

It’s also looking to use data analytics to improve federal employee satisfaction and customer experience across the government.

OPM Chief Data Officer and Deputy Director for Human Capital Data Management Ted Kaouk, said the agency is also coordinating efforts to build a data-savvy federal workforce and governmentwide data analytics capabilities through the Chief Data Officers Council.

“We’re, as an agency, uniquely positioned to rebuild, empower and support the federal workforce. And data and evidence are really critical to that work,” Kaouk said in a recent interview

OPM’s data strategy focuses on four major goals:

  • Developing a strong data-driven culture and a highly skilled data analytics workforce across the government at OPM
  • Working to deliver high-quality human capital data products that inform and support decision-making,
  • Modernizing underlying technology and using data standards to improve data collection and to improve the integration of the data and advanced analytics.
  • Developing and implementing strong data governance to include privacy, and security management.

OPM is also focused on developing a more data-savvy federal workforce governmentwide. The agency in 2021 led the first governmentwide hiring action for data scientists. Agencies under that initiative hired about 50 new data scientists.

OPM launched a data science analyst hiring action earlier this month and plans to embark on another governmentwide data scientist hiring action later this year.

“I think you can see the excitement that can be built around recruiting talent into the federal government,” Kaouk said.

The upcoming data scientist hiring action will build on the success of the previous effort.

This time around, agencies will be able to rely on a federal occupational series for data scientists that OPM released in December 2021.

“One of the great experiences for people who are interested, is you get to explore potentially multiple opportunities for positions in government. And in a lot of ways, the agencies themselves are competing, in terms of having the right position and opportunities for those that are trying to hire. It’s a good opportunity for the agencies to get access to really great talent,” Kaouk said.

Kaouk said OPM is also focused on building a data-fluent Senior Executive Service, and ensuring executives and those in the leadership pipeline have data fluency as one of the core competencies in the Executive Core Qualification Framework

OPM holds data on more than 2 million current federal employees and is taking steps to help agencies make better use of this workforce data.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDO Council built dashboards focused on federal workforce health and safety.

Those efforts later translated into the CDO Council developing governmentwide dashboards on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility progress.

“We’re thinking about how to leverage all the data that we collect from agencies on recruitment and hiring and demographics and engagement. How do we provide a really good experience for leaders across government who need access to that data?” Kaouk said.

“We have data on federal employees across OPM, and the federal employee experience with accessing that data can be dramatically improved,” Kaouk said.

OPM, as part of these dashboard efforts, is also trying to understand where there are gaps in the data.

Kaouk said OPM is considering ways to streamline or a standardize the process for conducting exit surveys, for agencies to better understand some of the root causes of attrition.

The agency is also gathering feedback for new data products from other agencies. The HR Analytics Community of Practice, for example,  meets monthly and brings together human capital experts from across government.

“We’re having those agencies share what they’re exploring within the HR data space,” Kaouk said.

CDO Council is working on a data culture playbook meant to help agencies implement best practices for implementing data-driven decision-making.

Kaouk said the playbook will focus on helping agencies set goals to improve data-informed decision-making, as well as stand up communities of practice and get leadership buy-in on data analytics.

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