One of the goals the Office of Personnel Management outlined in its strategic plan for fiscal 2022-2026 seeks to position the federal government as a model employer. As part of that effort, creating a more diverse federal workforce is front and center.
The agency said it wants to increase its index score for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility by 6% by 2026. To make that happen, OPM’s budget request includes about $9.2 million for the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, an increase from 2022’s budget request of just under $4 million.
Beyond diversity goals, the strategic plan detailed overarching plans to improve and strengthen the federal workforce over the next four years. The plan, released on March 28, defined four categories to solve workforce challenges that ultimately benefit Americans.
Those strategic goals aligned with the White House’s fiscal 2023 budget proposal sent to Congress on March 28, which outlined concrete ways to support OPM’s mission. The agency’s strategic plan also dovetails the first priority of the President’s Management Agenda, strengthening and empowering the federal workforce.
OPM’s budget request broke down its 2023 budget request by each of its four goals, with a fifth section set aside for additional mission support activities. That gives OPM a total budget request of about $1.1 billion.
Overall strategic goal
Target to achieve
Budget request funding in millions of dollars
Position the federal government as a model employer
Improve the government-wide satisfaction index score by 4 points
Transform OPM’s organizational capacity and capability
Better serve as the leader in federal human capital management
Improve OPM customer experience
Increase OPM’s customer satisfaction index score for targeted services to 4.3 out of 5
Provide innovative and data-driven solutions to agencies
Increase by 4% the number of users in government who say OPM offered innovative solutions in its services and guidance
Additional mission and mission support activities
Other OPM initiatives
To strengthen workforce diversity, OPM will take “a data-driven approach to recruitment, assessment, and hiring strategies,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja and the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management Jason Miller said in a blog post published March 29.
The Biden administration’s analytical perspectives on strengthening the federal workforce additionally highlighted diversity goals for the agency, particularly its plan to get more people from underserved communities into federal jobs. The budget request said it will use Federal Executive Boards to help agencies create local connections and recruit from more diverse talent pools.
To help the FEBs do that, the 2023 budget request updates the program’s funding and governance structure, which is more than 60 years old. The budget request also establishes a program management office for the FEB community and provides a line of business funded at $10 million.
In addition to funding for FEBs, the budget request includes a 4.6% pay increase for federal workers. That raise would strengthen diversity for the federal workforce, the administration said.
Focusing on the future of work for federal employees was another central piece for OPM’s strategic plan. That includes things like hiring, talent development, competitive pay, benefits and flexible workplaces.
To achieve that goal, the budget request said it will increase internship opportunities at federal agencies to more than 35,000 roles in 2023. That number includes an expansion of paid internships as well.
The administration will work to accomplish diverse hiring goals “by developing a diverse and competent early-career pipeline by bolstering federal paid internship programs and providing funds to support increased paid internship programs,” the budget request stated.
To support diversity recruitment and retention efforts, the agency gave itself a deadline of Sept. 30, 2023, to increase by 5% the amount of hiring managers who review applicant flow data trends from past recruitment efforts. By that same date, OPM plans to increase the percentages of employees who are on-board military spouses, workers with disabilities and early-career employees.
Amount to increase
Hiring managers to review recruitment data trends
Sept. 30, 2023
Increase on-board military spouses in government
Sept. 30, 2023
Increase number of employees with disabilities/targeted disabilities
Sept. 30, 2023
Increase number of early-career employees in federal positions
Sept. 30, 2023
OPM will also develop tools, guidance and service to support and improve human capital policies, especially as more agencies begin to phase in reentry plans. Those services aim to support retention and recruitment rates for federal roles.
“The federal government has had the opportunity to use lessons learned to determine how work will be performed moving forward and set the standard for how workplace flexibilities can be a strategic asset to help recruit, retain, and support employees in new ways, all while finding new and innovative ways for the government to deliver on its mission,” OPM said in its strategic plan.
Building out talent teams under the new budget request will support these efforts as well, by driving “improvements to assessments used for federal hiring by establishing government-wide hiring assessment line of business and agency talent teams,” OPM said.
Particularly for human resources roles, retention has lagged behind the average retention rates for federal roles for several years, the administration reported. To strengthen retention for that group, the budget request said it will add tools and training for human resources.
“The work will consider ways to improve HR workforce skills through training, certifications, rotation programs, and other methods to better equip the critical people who are at the core of supporting agency talent,” the budget request stated.
Championing federal employees is the ultimate goal of the strategic plan. In particular, the plan highlighted the importance of recognizing and elevating the work of individuals across agencies. This comes as challenges like the pandemic have added strain for many federal workers.
OPM’s 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found that 48% of federal employees saw an increase in work demands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, just 59% of those workers said they were satisfied with the recognition they receive.
To highlight that work and improve morale, OPM said it will focus more heavily on programs that spotlight federal workers, such as Public Service Recognition Week. It will also encourage collaboration among chief human capital officers, FEBs and the White House to better engage employees.