Federal Executive Boards report details agencies’ local successes

If Washington is the federal government’s brain, then the Federal Executive Boards (FEBs) are the peripheral nervous system.

On March 1 the Office of Personnel Management released the 2015 FEB report, assessing the health and wellness of FEBs across the country in workforce development, emergency preparedness and community outreach.

Among the accomplishments of the FEBs include savings of $8.8 million in training costs and more than $18.9 million through dispute mediation in fiscal 2015.

The 28 FEBs, located in areas of concentrated federal presence, facilitate local communication and cooperation among agencies while establishing a central point of contact between Washington and the field offices.

FEBs have been particularly effective in developing leadership programs that are tailor-made to serve local needs. Many of them focus on federal employees at the GS 9-15 levels, and supplement agency-specific programs. By folding in multiple agencies together, FEBs save individual agencies the cost of organizing their own programs.

In Atlanta, Colorado and Kansas City, FEBs implemented an interagency rotation program to improve management skills, broaden experiences and encourage networking. Minnesota created the Federal Outreach and Leadership Development (FOLD) program, which provides training, mentoring, site visits and networking via an alumni network.

FEBs in other locations held forums, training courses, panels and workshops. This supplemental training adds up in the long run.

According to the report “in FY 2015, FEBs helped agencies avoid additional training expenditures of more than $8.8 million in training costs for 28,141 employees.”

Alternative dispute resolution is another program that has helped federal agencies save money. Twenty-one FEBs participated in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)/Shared Neutrals program, which offers agencies third-party mediation and training for addressing workplace concerns. According to estimates these programs have helped agencies avoid more than $18.9 million in litigation.

FEBs also organize recruitment and retention programs, frequently working alongside local colleges and universities to encourage students to explore employment with federal agencies. Cleveland’s FEB conducted the seventh annual Government Career day, which brought together 63 agencies from all levels of government with 700 local students.

FEBs coordinate localized federal responses to natural disasters and other emergencies, primarily by facilitating communications through “Communicator!NXT,” a standardized emergency notification system that streamlines communication between agency leaders. Boston used this system more than 100 times in one month, when 80 inches of snow fell in two weeks. St. Louis used it during the unrest between the community and law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, to keep leaders apprised of the developing situation.

The report also highlighted participation in community service.

“Across all 28 FEBs a total of 1,575 employees contributed more than 16,644 hours of community service,” the report said.

FEBs coordinated blood drives that collected more than 2,585 units of blood and food drives that brought in 258,000 pounds of food.

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