As Public Service Recognition Week officially gets underway, Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management and a long-time public servant herself, tells Federal News Radio the hard work of the federal workforce deserves to be recognized.
“Federal workers are so dedicated and hard working, and they’re so passionate about what they do,” she said. “Frankly, they make this country such a great place to live. Every day, federal workers go to work and the impact they have on citizens every day sometimes goes unnoticed.”
The public may not think about the fact that the people helping them board a plane, answering their questions at national parks or even putting mail in their mailboxes are part of the federal workforce.
“That’s public service,” Archuleta told Federal News Radio’s Mike Causey and Lauren Larson. “Employees are doing that day in and day out, and that’s why we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week. It really gives us all an opportunity to thank the men and women for their service.”
To help draw attention to public service, Archuleta will be throwing out the first pitch during Federal Employee Appreciation Night at Tuesday’s Washington Nationals game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’ll be joined by some of the Service to America Medal — or “Sammies” — nominees.
Making public service cool again
Early in his tenure, President Barack Obama said he wanted to make public service “cool” again. With furloughs, a government shutdown, repeated pay freezes and bureaucrat-bashing on Capitol Hill, that’s been a struggle at times.
“You know what? I think we’re pretty cool,” Archuleta said. “I think we love the work that we’re doing and our employees certainly look at themselves as being pretty cool. Every day they not only do their own work, but they are often volunteers in the communities that they live in. And so, I think that we have a great opportunity to continue to express how cool these jobs are.”
When Archuleta travels outside of Washington, D.C., she says she encounters many millennials who are enthusiastic about joining the civil service and contributing to the community.
“We’ve got a lot of programs that we work on through not only OPM but through agencies across government that are specific for students and recent graduates,” she said. “One of them is the Pathways Program, but there’s many others.”
One of the things Archuleta and others at OPM are working toward is creating a more diverse workforce, she said.
“We’re working really hard at that, and thankfully I’ve got a lot of help at my side, not only from the agencies but also from nonprofit groups who understand that the fabric of America really needs to be represented in the people that serve them,” she said. “I think the work that we’re doing on diversity and inclusion is a really an important one.”
OPM is working with agencies on their recruitment efforts and improving USAJobs.gov. They’re also trying to take advantage of the different ways people are applying for jobs now, such as social media.
“We want to really create an increased value to diversity and to create the cultures of inclusion that, once we do bring these individuals on board, that they are feeling that they have a role in service,” Archuleta said.
Many events have been planned as part of Public Service Recognition Week. The week kicked off with a 5K run/walk Sunday in D.C. and continues with the announcement of the finalists for the 2014 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) on Tuesday morning. A town hall meeting with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has been scheduled for Thursday morning.
LIVE CHAT: OPM Director Katherine Archuleta will join Federal News Radio for an online chat on Wednesday, May 28 at 11 a.m. Federal employees will have the chance to ask Archuleta their own questions during the live chat. Questions for Archuleta can also be sent in advance to Web Manager Julia Ziegler via email. Archuleta will also be a guest on Mike Causey’s Your Turn radio show that same day. Register for the free online chat today.