Human capital mission: Change

Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James told members of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council June 11 that they are "change agents" for workforce reform in the government.

At the first meeting of the council, James said it will not be business as usual and that she expects to see "huge change" and "high energy" from the members. "This is a labor-intensive, time-consuming council," she said. The council was created — along with the chief human capital officer position — by a provision in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

The first meeting was largely administrative; the council expects to lay out a detailed agenda and establish the executive structure in the fall. However, James said there is "nothing related to strategic human capital that this council won't address." This includes competitive sourcing, recruitment and the use of workforce flexibilities in agencies.

James encouraged council members to use the workforce flexibilities that already are available to agencies. "These are hard fought and won flexibilities and I expect the agencies to avail themselves" to using those flexibilities, she said.

On June 13, OPM expects to release in the Federal Register interim rules on regulations related to category ratings and direct hire flexibilities.

Category ratings allows agencies to group job candidates into categories such as superior or highly qualified, instead of ranking them based on a numerical score and picking the top three.

Agencies can use the direct hire option when they have a severe shortage of candidates for a position or need to fill a job that is deemed critical such as areas involving cybersecurity and nursing.

OPM also expects to establish a Chief Human Capital Officers Academy to provide training on strategic workforce issues. Stephen Benowitz, an associate director at OPM, said the academy will be staffed by the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Va., but members of the council may be called upon to provide their expertise. Course content has not been set yet, and Benowitz said he expects that some courses will be offered via distance learning.

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