OPM launches effort to improve feds’ image

By Ruben Gomez
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is crafting a plan to improve how federal agencies deal with poorly performing employees and how the public perceives civil servants, OPM Director John Berry told Federal News Radio Monday.

“If we do our job right and show the American public that yes, there is strong performance accountability in the government, and yes … people who are doing great jobs can be rewarded, people who are doing good jobs can be kept up to pay, and people who are doing bad jobs can be gotten rid of … I think it will go a long way in rebuilding the trust,” Berry said.

Berry, a recipient of Federal News Radio’s 2011 Causey Award, did not provide specifics on what the finished strategy will address. But he hopes the plan will deal with what he believes is a misguided approach in how the public, members of Congress and even some federal employees view the government workforce.


“When you look at the employee survey results [and] you look at the public survey results, it’s clear we have a misperception. And we’ve gotta correct that, because I believe it might be what undergirds all of this animus that is aimed at federal employees in our society today,” Berry said.

OPM is working with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations on the plan, and Berry hopes to complete a final strategy by Dec. 31, 2011.

OPM recently released a memo reminding agencies that General Schedule employees who receive poor performance ratings should not automatically get within-grade step increases.

“My hope is that some day, our country can come to value the incredible sacrifice and service of our civil servants just as much as they do our men and women in uniform,” Berry said. “They both take the exact same oath to defend and protect our Constitution. And they are both critical to the quality of life that we and our children are going to inherit in this country.”


Full list of 2011 Causey Award winners