OPM: Agencies can use flexible work schedule for science, engineering activities

The Office of Personnel Management wants agencies to use workplace flexibility to encourage federal workers to pursue volunteer activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — better known as STEM.

Agencies should consider alternative work schedules, leave, leave without pay, credit hours and other time off for STEM-related work, according to a memo OPM Director John Berry sent to federal chief human capital officers Tuesday.

“Through direct involvement in their local communities, federal employees help build a STEM talent pipeline for future recruitment into federal service,” Berry said in the memo.

OPM recommends federal CHCOS use workplace flexibility for activities that do not require extended absences, will enhance professional development and are directly related to the agency’s mission.

The inter-agency National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education is identifying volunteer activities that will advance STEM-related federal priorities, according to the memo.

A recent survey of CHCOs by the Partnership for Public Service found a major hiring concern is having funding that attracts people qualified for STEM positions. OPM is partnering with the White House, Office of Science Technology and Policy, and CHCO Council to develop a strategy to close the STEM skills gaps in the federal workforce, the memo said.


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