OPM pushes for modern HR

BALTIMORE — Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James told a gathering of federal workers today that her goal is to modernize human resources systems in the federal government and eliminate stovepiping.

At the first OPM Federal Workforce Conference, held here this week, James said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are among the factors motivating the Bush administration to put human resources systems in place to deal with potential U.S. security threats.

"At OPM, we have a greater challenge: protecting people," she said.

"The changes that we are implementing are not new or rocket science," James told an audience of 2,000 federal human resources representatives who came from as far away as Korea to learn about the steps OPM intends to take to overhaul the system.

Governmentwide plans, including those required by law and others mandated by the administration, involve modernizing the civil service system, expanding workplace flexibilities including telework, changing pay scales to reward performance, and using new models to hire and promote workers.

One of those models, she said, is the reorganization of the Homeland Security Department's 180,000-member workforce, instituting pay for performance and other changes in how workers are hired, promoted and transferred. The final rules for the department are expected to be released sometime this fall.

"With modernization and reform, no agency is left behind," she said. "Our job is to make sure the core values of the American civil service system stay intact."

Among the reforms, she identified:

More investment in HR training.

Capturing and leveraging institutional knowledge before workers retire.

Maximizing the use of technology.

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