US government publishes metrics for workforce reforms – and names officials responsible for them

By on 13/04/2022 | Updated on 13/04/2022
Vice president Kamala Harris laughs while walking alongside Joe Biden outside at the White House
President Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris are focusing heavily on increasing federal employee engagement. Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

The Biden administration has updated its management agenda to incorporate metrics that aim to improve agency performance, employee engagement, and citizen experience – and has named a host of senior officials who will be responsible for overseeing progress.

The Office of Management and Budget said these “strategy leads” would be responsible for ensuring the priorities set out in the agenda “have the sustained attention they deserve and the focus and expertise of subject matter experts who drive day-to-day implementation”.

The President’s Management Agenda (PMA) was published in November and is intended to strengthen the workforce – in part by increasing young talent within the federal government and giving employees more powers through their unions – and improve service delivery.

Read more: Biden’s management agenda prioritises federal employee engagement

It set out three priority areas: strengthening and empowering the federal workforce; delivering excellent, equitable, and secure federal services and customer experience; and managing the business of government.

Priority metrics included in the latest iteration indicate how these will be monitored. They include narrowing gaps in employee engagement scores recorded in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) by 20%; increasing the percentage of agencies meeting projected hiring targets and managers’ satisfaction with the hiring process; and using FEVS results to make progress towards agencies’ diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility objectives.

There is a heavy focus on making “every federal job a good job where all employees are engaged, supported, heard, and empowered”. Related success metrics include increasing the number of paid internships and converting a higher number of interns into full-time employees; increasing opportunities for skills development; increasing the percentage of employees aware of available wellbeing support services; and creating greater pay equity.

“Given the changing nature of work, new technology, and the evolving skills needed to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, we must invest in our public servants who are the backbone of our government,” the update said.

The government also aims to reimagine the future of federal work “informed by lessons from the pandemic and nationwide workforce and workplace trends” and increase the use of emerging technologies that can automate tasks.

‘Data-driven and transparent’

The update stated that employee engagement data and employee feedback is to play a big part in assessing whether efforts make a “meaningful impact”, the government said.

Going forward, the government said teams would “continue to build out action plans with specific milestones and metrics to ensure cross-government efforts to implement the PMA are data-driven and transparent, refining the work along the way”. By sharing its goals and results “we will continue building trust with the American public” it added.

Unlike previous presidents’ management agendas, Biden’s has been signed by departments’ deputy secretaries or chief operating officers, signalling buy-in.

In February, Biden proposed the highest pay rise for federal employees in 20 years, at 4.6%.

Strategy leads for federal workforce plan named

The strategy leads have been named across priorities for each of the three priority areas.

Priority 1: Strengthening and empowering the federal workforce (Priority leads: Kiran Ahuja, director Office of Personnel Management; Dr. Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Defense; Julie Su, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Labor)

Attract and hire the most qualified employees, who reflect the diversity of our country, in the right roles across the federal government (Strategy leads: Colleen Heller-Stein, director, Office of Human Resources and acting chief human capital officer, Department of the Treasury; Tracey Therit, chief human capital officer, Department of Veterans Affairs).

Make every federal job a good job, where all employees are engaged, supported, heard, and empowered, with opportunities to learn, grow, join a union and have an effective voice in their workplaces through their union, and thrive throughout their careers (Strategy leads: Roland Edwards, chief human capital officer, Department of Homeland Security; Kristin McNally, branch chief of employee engagement, Division of Worklife and Engagement in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, Department of Labor; Nancy A. Speight, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, Department of Defense).

Reimagine and build a roadmap to the future of Federal work informed by lessons from the pandemic and nationwide workforce and workplace trends (Strategy leads: Jason Barke, deputy associate director, Strategic Workforce Planning, Office of Personnel Management; Dustin Brown, deputy assistant director for management, Office of Management and Budget; Wonzie Gardner, office head and chief human capital officer, Office of Information and Resource Management, National Science Foundation; Zoe Garmendia, senior advisor to the administrator, General Services Administration).

Build the personnel system and support required to sustain the Federal Government as a model employer able to effectively deliver on a broad range of agency missions (Strategy leads: John Gill, assistant director of Center For Leadership Development, Office of Personnel Management; Veronica Hinton, principal deputy associate director for employee services, Office of Personnel Management; David Padrino, executive director, Office of Human Capital Data Management and Modernization, Office of Personnel Management).

Priority 2: Delivering excellent, equitable, and secure federal services and customer experience (Priority leads: Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Robin Carnahan, Administrator, General Services Administration; Donald Remy, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Improve the service design, digital products, and customer-experience management of Federal high-impact service providers by reducing customer burden, addressing inequities, and streamlining processes (Strategy lead: Pam Coleman, associate director for performance and personnel management, Office of Management and Budget).

Design, build, and manage government service delivery for key life experiences that cut across federal agencies (The White House says “the president’s management council is responsible for forming interagency teams to tackle cross-agency life experiences”).

Identify and prioritize the development of federal shared products, services, and standards that enable simple, seamless, and secure customer experiences across high impact service providers (Strategy lead: Dave Zvenyach, director of the technology transformation services, General Services Administration).

Priority 3: Managing the business of government (Priority leads: Don Graves, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce; Andrea Palm, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; John Tien, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Foster lasting improvements in the federal acquisition system to strengthen the U.S. domestic manufacturing base, support American workers, lead by example toward sustainable climate solutions, and create opportunities for underserved communities (Strategy lead forthcoming).

Build capacity in federal financial management, including through federal financial assistance, to catalyse American industrial strategy, address climate-related risks, and deliver equitable results (Strategy lead forthcoming).

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About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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