The Office of Personnel Management works to recruit and retain more than 2.7 million federal workers. They also cover 2.5 million retirees and annuitants. Director Katherine Archuleta was sworn in on November 4th, 2013. She's the 10th director of OPM and the first Latina to head the agency.
In her first sit-down TV interview as OPM director, Archuleta discussed technology with Government Matters.
Morris: The retirement backlog peaked in January of 2012 at more than 61,000 cases. Where is it today?
Archuleta: It's right around 12,000 thanks to the good work of our federal employees who really focused in on reducing that backlog. At the same time as the employees are really working extremely hard, there's also an effort on the part of RS Director Ken Zawodny and our IT staff to really develop the I.T. capabilities of case management. So, we're looking forward to -- by the end of fiscal year 2015 -- having an I.T. case management system that will help us manage the cases much better. What it means is that from the time a person actually starts as an employee, their case begins to be developed. That information will follow them wherever they go in an automated way, not in a pencil and paper way. So, we're really excited by that. In the meantime, we rely a lot on our federal employees to get it done and they're doing a great job.
Morris: That said, the system itself is archaic - a massive paper-based archive built inside a Pennsylvania limestone cave. The Washington Post called it, quote -- 'a sinkhole of bureaucracy.' Since 2005, all new employee data has been maintained electronically. Will that be the first fully-automated generation of retirees?
Archuleta: The automation has already begun, as you just stated. I think that article did a disservice to the employees who are up there. While you may want to look at the walls -- and they may be stone -- the fact of the matter is, there is a highly dedicated staff within those walls. Part of the reason is that we have such important files there. They offer a protection for those files. Now, as we're moving forward with information technology and automating more of our systems (as I just mentioned) with case management, those employees will be using different tools to make sure retirees and annuitants get their checks on time.
Morris: Your office just wrapped up the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey - commonly called 'The EVS.' What's different about it this year?
Archuleta: We haven't seen the results yet. We had a little bit less of a response -- but not significant. We've also been able to add in to our analysis this year (that will be available at the end of August) another thousand points of data that we're going to be able to extract from the responses. We're very excited about that. As well, we have developed a dashboard for our managers. So, they will be able to see their EVS data on a dashboard. That will enable them to look at this data at will, and also add in their own data from their departments and agencies. We're really excited about that, and just launched that a couple of days ago.
Morris: The EVS will also feed big data to a worker-exchange program called GovConnect. Tell us more about that.
Archuleta: That's the important part. How do we use that data government-wide? We're fulfilling the President's requests that we are managing with data -- that we know what our employees are doing, how they're reacting, what their interests are, and what their concerns are. This is really going to be an important part. GovConnect offers us not only an opportunity to use that data, but to use it in new, creative, and innovative ways -- matching up employees across the country to make sure that we have their input and engagement all along the way.
Morris: This week, OPM - and 14 other agencies - released a new data tool called UnlockTalent.gov. Tell us about it.
Archuleta: That's exactly what I was talking about. The new dashboard is called UnlockTalent.gov. So what it will do is give us that information -- have it at our fingertips. Whenever a manager, supervisor, cabinet secretary, or the director of personnel wants to know how we're doing on employee engagement and satisfaction we'll have it at our fingertips.