Berry is innovating in the OPM basement

By Max Cacas
Federal News Radio

He’s been on the job for just a little over a year and yesterday, John Berry, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, used the occasion of a conference to offer some tantalizing hints of what he’d like to see in the year ahead.

For the most part, John Berry used his more than hour-long appearance before the Excellence in Government conference to recap a busy year. Efforts to revamp the federal retirement system, the website, the federal hiring process, and the restoration of labor-management councils.

In the effort to “make government service cool again”, as President Obama has mandated, Berry says he’s making a place for the technology that attracts so many young people.

You know, the iPad just came out. Of course, what was our agency’s reaction, just like every other agency in the federal government? “Oh, my god, don’t hook that up to our system, you don’t know if it will blow it up, it will fry the world!”

It was a reaction of panic, instead of “how are we going to make this work?”

To get around this, what we’re doing…I’ve scraped together money, we’re going to build what’s called an “innovation lab” in the basement of OPM, and I think GSA’s going to jump on board and help us with this. We’re going to have this great testing place. It’s going to be so flexible, and we’re going to test things.

We’re going to have this great testing place. We’re going to have a place where we can test technology as soon as it comes out, and we can integrate it into the rest of the federal workforce.

Earlier, Berry led the EIG attendees in a moment of silence for all of those who were killed 15 years ago at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

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