Speech by Janice Lachance,
Demands of Information
Revolution Will Kill 20th Century Dinosaurs
Office of Personnel Management
US Air Force Civilian Personnel Workshop
is a very appropriate one: "Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Vision,"
because we have spent so much time getting ready for the new millennium
that we may have lost sight of the fact that we are already
in the midst of a time of dramatic change.
How we lead
this change will mean the difference between success and failure
as a Federal workforce.
all the time about the impact of this change on our workforce and
our society. I am here to tell you that the impact is already being
felt - it is real, it is significant, and for those caught unaware,
it will be catastrophic.
have been talking about something that I call the "Dinosaur Killer"
- and no I'm not talking about some giant asteroid striking the
planet, as recent movies have suggested.
am talking about an overwhelming, unavoidable force of nature that
is changing the climate of the world's workforce and ushering in
a new age - this time we are calling the Dinosaur Killer by the
name of "The Information Revolution."
More and more
information is becoming available to an ever expanding number of
people around the world at an ever increasing pace. New technologies,
new work environments, new needs for skills and learning, all these
changes are having a deep impact, at work and at home, in societies
around the globe.
And rest assured,
the demands of the Information Revolution will kill our 20th
century dinosaurs - those organizations that cannot, or will
not, adapt to the new global realities of the next millennium.
At OPM, we
have been working hard to fight off the Dinosaur Killer by anticipating
the specific nature of work and the workforce of the 21st century,
and by seeing what OPM can do now to create and sustain learning
see the trends for the next millennium. And the theme is "Adapt
or be pushed aside."
are already learning that they must adapt to changing missions and
become more diverse and more flexible.
In the years
ahead, organizations will no longer have a permanent workforce,
or even a temporary workforce, instead they will have what I call
a "situational workforce." Needed work will be done by a blend of
core employees in cross-functional teams and by temporary employees,
consultants, and contractors, when necessary.
lifelong jobs and job descriptions are already disappearing, and
instead, employees are increasingly being called upon to be generalists
- omnivores in the new world order, with the tools to survive and
flourish at many different tasks and in many different environments.
will fit into a neat job description. And our core government employees
will be called upon to perform one role today and another tomorrow.
this has significant implications for how skills are valued, how
salaries are set, how performance is evaluated, and how learning
needs are assessed and met.
will have to look at the bottom line and weigh the cost of investing
in specialists who can only do one thing very well, versus the benefit
of using generalists who can perform multiple tasks and who are
adaptable to changing organizational needs.
The way work
is organized is also being affected by the speed of change. Work
processes are increasingly driven by what employees know - that
is to say, how the work is done is increasingly dependent upon the
level of knowledge the employee brings to the job.
The more knowledgeable
an employee is across disciplines, the better job she or he can
do, and the more valuable she or he becomes.
of this trend is that the distinction between working and learning
is becoming blurred - part of every employee's job will be to keep
learning about the ever-changing work to be performed. The Clinton/Gore
Administration realizes this, and has made lifelong learning a priority
in its efforts to improve the Federal workplace.
we see is that Federal Government operations and decision-making
authority will continue to be decentralized.
we are working to promote partnership and empower front-line employees
to give them a greater say in problem-solving and workforce improvements.
We must find
ways to promote the potential of our employees - making them
more knowledgeable, more adaptable, and better able to meet changing
The fact is,
I remain committed to developing the full potential of our current
workforce. It is good for the employees, good for morale, and good
for the bottom line.
we will see is that Federal agencies will shift from the hierarchical,
Industrial Era structures that we are familiar with to "inter-networked"
structures that improve and integrate service delivery and improve
the design of government.
We are moving
from the ponderous organizational dinosaurs of the 20th
century to the fleet and nimble gazelles of the 21st.
In the military, this is being seen not only in a new emphasis on
more mobile fighting forces and "Rapid Deployment Forces", but also
in leaner organizational structures and simplified lines of communication.
when work is accomplished will increasingly be driven by customer
and employee needs. The growth in tele-commuting and working from
home will continue. As well as expanding traditional work hours
to meet the needs of our customers - customers who have their own
work schedule and family obligations. As Department of Defense employees,
this is not news to you - DOD is always ready anyway, 24 hours a
day. Now the rest of us are learning what it's like to be on call
will continue to experience shrinking ranks and changing roles.
The manager's role will become more that of a leader, a coach, an
enabler, and a teacher rather than a giver of assignments and evaluator
In other words,
they either grow the wings they need to survive, or they will
all of this, we must ensure that we never as an organization lose
sight of the people involved. The business of government is still
the business of people helping people, after all.
said, let me offer some words of caution:
We have to
guard against work being divided into smart jobs and dumb jobs,
thus dividing the workforce and society into "haves" and "have nots."
We will have
to cope with skill obsolescence that leads to job displacement and
capability to monitor employees by computer may erode their rights
information technology also provides an example of a workforce learning
need. Technology literacy is required in almost all occupations,
and this constitutes a special challenge for us in keeping employees
up-to-date on current applications.
In fact, for
the individual, survival and success in the distributed, high tech
workplace depends on her or his ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
That, in and
of itself, is quite different from past workplace learning and development
are also changing in America. Workers may be loyal to their profession,
but as their employers become less loyal to them, they are also
becoming far less loyal to the organizations they work in than they
were a generation ago.
of this phenomena is that workers have come to expect that their
employer should address their learning needs. And, they will choose
those employers that provide them with the most educational opportunities.
become an economic and pocketbook issue for employees, and unions
are increasingly interested in the training needs of employees.
in the nature of work and in the workforce constitute significant
challenges for workforce learning, development, and education.
So, you are
probably asking yourselves, what is OPM doing to create and sustain
a learning environment in the Federal Government?
learning and continuing education are so important today, OPM is
encouraging federal agencies to increase their use of workforce
planning. We want agencies to do a better job of forecasting skills
changes and anticipating workforce trends and needs.
use learning as a strategic management tool throughout the organization,
and change how training and learning are managed in Federal agencies,
so that training priorities are linked to performance objectives
and training decisions are linked to performance development.
We are encouraging
agencies to forge learning and performance development partnerships
among various occupational groups, managers, employee representatives,
and the human resource development community to develop resources
and support for improved organizational performance.
We are also
actively encouraging agencies to use technology in their training
and organizational learning programs, and support Federal learning
technology consortiums that effectively share resources.
And we are
committed to providing lifelong learning for every Federal
So, how do
we plan to prepare Federal workers for
the new millennium?
Well, as we
look at the direction being provided by the Clinton/Gore Administration,
we find confirmation that human resources development is the responsibility
of the entire organization - and it is a lifelong process.
Administration initiatives illustrate this point. Earlier this year,
the President issued an Executive Order for the Heads of Executive
Departments and Agencies, titled Using Technology to Improve
Training Opportunities For Federal Government Employees.
is to organize and promote the use of technology to enhance learning
in the Federal Government. It establishes a Government-wide Task
Force, which I chair, and a private sector Advisory Committee.
The Task Force
is made up of Federal leaders who are working to craft recommendations
on how we can effectively integrate technology into the training
of the Federal workforce.
In July, I
was very pleased to sign the Task Force's initial set of recommendations
on Individual Learning Accounts for Federal employees, which were
on a fast track. For those of you who haven't heard about Individual
Learning Accounts, they are resources - either dollars or hours
- set aside for individual employees to use for their professional
development and learning.
Soon, we expect
the President to endorse these recommendations, and we will work
with a number of agencies to establish Individual Learning Account
pilots. The results of these pilots will serve as the basis for
OPM's government-wide guidance for agencies who choose to implement
such accounts. We make our remaining recommendations to the President
in July 2000.
the work being done by the Task Force, the President also directed
OPM to establish an Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities.
will be appointed by the President and will be made up of private
sector representatives - from research, education, labor, training,
and information technology.
make an independent assessment of how the Federal government
is doing in integrating technology into training programs, how
Federal Government programs, initiatives and policies can drive
training technology so that all Americans have training opportunities,
and how the Federal government can encourage private sector
investment in the development and use of high-quality instructional
also look at what the Federal government's role should be
in research and development for learning technologies; and what
the options are for helping adult Americans finance the training
and post-secondary education needed to upgrade skills and gain new
invest in our employees is no longer a question. The question is
HOW. One of the "best" right answers is: use technology to design,
develop and deliver training government-wide.
The Task Force
and Advisory Committee will give us a road map. All we will have
to do is follow it.
Force is a powerful example of our efforts to muster Federal resources
and new instructional technologies to make education, at work and
at home, easier and more convenient for the Federal workforce.
Learning Technology Strategy came out of the Vice President's Lifelong
Learning Summit, which took place last January.
heralded a vision and call to action for lifelong learning for all
Gore told the group, "Realizing our potential will require investing
in education and learning for all of our people throughout their
So, we must
ensure that the Federal government's policies regarding employee
training apply to every employee. And I believe we are on the right
also understands that cooperation between labor and management can
be a powerful vehicle for improving the performance of government.
At agencies like the U.S. Mint, the Department of Veterans Affairs,
the Social Security Administration, and the Customs Service, partnerships
between labor and management are saving millions of taxpayer dollars
and dramatically improving the delivery of service.
the President's Executive Order on partnership is all about: labor
and management working together to make the government work better
for the American people.
As the Administration
looks to renew its commitment to partnership, OPM is eager to play
a strong leadership role. We will do everything we can to help agencies
and unions find better, more effective ways of conducting business.
Building successful partnerships is not easy, but training, education,
and facilitation can make all the difference in the world, and OPM
will work hard to make sure that agencies and unions get the resources
they need to succeed.
to believe that unions and agencies have a common interest in delivering
the best possible service to the American people, and OPM will do
its very best to help stimulate the creation of true workplace partnerships
where that can be achieved.
As the Federal
workplace changes, OPM is responding with new tools and strategies
to provide agency managers with greater flexibilities for recruitment,
performance management, and retention tools.
We have been
working hard to provide those tools over the last decade. We have
introduced many changes that have made a real difference in these
areas. For example, the delegation of examining to agencies, an
automated data base of all government jobs that is open around the
clock, and a flexible framework for performance appraisal that supports
individuals and teams.
But our job
is not done. We need more tools and strategies that meet the challenges
of today's workplace.
At the beginning
of this year, Vice President Gore announced his commitment to civil
service improvements at the Global Forum on Reinventing Government.
The essential components of these improvements are twofold.
must have flexible performance and pay systems that support high
performance, and encourage employees to do their best;
we have to be able to create flexible recruitment and hiring systems
that permit alternative selection procedures, authorize agencies
to make direct job offers in critical areas - like information technology
- and permit use of non-permanent employees, with appropriate benefits,
to expedite adapting to workload and mission shifts.
For the most
part, these improvements are offered as options to agencies. Working
with their employees, agencies can choose which new tools and strategies
best fit their needs.
Many of these
have been tested and found to be effective in demonstration projects
and in the private sector. It is time that they were made available
to all Federal managers.
each new tool or strategy is designed to work in the context of
our merit principles, so that agencies can continue to ensure that
the very best workers are hired, rewarded, and retained.
these proposed flexibilities for managers to select and manage the
high quality, diverse workforce they need, we are also introducing
translates into more emphasis on performance measurement, and ultimately,
it also translates to improved recognition and rewards.
Let me be
frank. All stakeholders have an equal stake in embracing these changes
in the civil service. I can assure you that the merit system will
remain the basis of all our improvements, but we cannot be afraid
to try new things and experiment with new processes.
One of our
challenges is to assist each stakeholder to confront their apprehensions
and embrace the opportunities that this package offers. It is up
to us to change the way we do business, and the reap the improvements
in service that will follow.
We must embrace
increased partnership as a means of accomplishing these changes.
With partnership comes more creativity and productivity, and ultimately,
better service to the public.
consensus is essential to the success of our civil service improvement
efforts. We have pledged to move forward together. That means the
process takes longer, but we intend to carry on the process as long
as it takes.
is too important, our opportunities to great, to accept anything
less than constructive engagement and cooperation.
Now, let me
talk to you briefly about some of the more concrete changes that
we have been championing recently.
foremost, OPM has been aggressively leading efforts to assure that
FEHB plans fully adopt the Patients' Bill of Rights. In 1999, we
took a number of steps to ensure that the members of the Federal
community were covered by these important protections.
are incorporated into every plan in the program. So, the good news
is that employee's and retiree's access to specialists, emergency
room care and information about care and treatment is better now
than it was just last year.
We are also
ensuring that participants will receive up to 90 days of transitional
care from their specialist for treatment of chronic or disabling
conditions in the event that they have to change health plans.
improvement is that all of the plans must establish procedures to
allow patients to review and obtain copies of their own personal
Now, I know
you have all heard that premiums will be increasing again this year.
Let me say now, and for the record, that these increases were not
caused by the provisions of the Patients Bill of Rights. In fact,
in spite of all the concerns to the contrary, the cost of adding
this important array of protections to our already-great program
will be less than $10 per year for each policyholder.
and professionally, I find these increases to be completely unacceptable,
even if they are the same kind of increases as private sector employees
are facing. And, I give you my personal commitment that I intend
to correct this situation. The Federal government is a very large
a health care pool - we ought to be able to leverage that into better
rates for our Federal community!
of health care, OPM has been working to make long-term care insurance
available for Federal employees, annuitants, and their respective
families, including parents and parents-in-law - in short, for the
people we love.
Administration's proposal, OPM would have the authority to design
a long-term care insurance package that is competitive with industry
standards. And I promise you this, it will be a package that offers
an array of long-term care services to meet the needs of the broadest
would also provide the flexibility to contract for benefits with
one or more private carriers, basically the way it works with the
FEHBP and the Life Insurance Program.
that it would provide the flexibility we must have if we are to
obtain the best value for the entire Federal family. And I can promise
you that we will ensure that contracts are awarded the right way
- solely on the basis of contractor qualifications, price, and reasonable
would be available at group rates expected to be 15 to 20 percent
lower than individual rates available in today's market. It will
be a very good deal indeed.
Many of you
may know that there are other proposals to provide long term care
for Federal employees. OPM has been working with members of Congress
and their staff to develop a compromise. The good news is that everyone
wants long term care - so I am cautiously optimistic.
a bill is passed, OPM intends to run an educational campaign about
it. We want to make sure that those offered this opportunity have
all the information they need about long-term care insurance so
they will sign up early, and we want to solicit and fully evaluate
potential insurers as early in the process as possible. Then, we
intend to hold an open enrollment for all eligible participants
- including retirees. So, keep your fingers crossed!
OPM has been
moving forward on other fronts as well. For example, if you have
not already heard the great news, the Treasury and General Government
Appropriations Act that the President signed into law on September
29th included several provisions of interest to Federal
The one I
know you already know about is the provision that calls for an overall
pay increase of 4.8 percent for most Federal employees in January
be the largest overall Federal pay increase since 1981 - almost
20 years ago!
that the 4.8 percent overall pay increase will be split between
an across-the-board pay increase that will be applied to the basic
General Schedule, and locality pay increases that will vary from
one locality pay area to another.
on the allocation of the overall pay increase and the distribution
of locality pay increases among locality pay areas will be made
later this year, when the President issues his Executive order on
the January 2000 pay increase.
success has to do with child care. As we all know, our fast-paced
modern society has forced more and more parents to rely on some
type of child care to balance the demands of the workplace with
the needs of the family.
of Labor Statistics reports that, in 1997, over 29 million U.S.
families, that's 41 percent, had children under the age of 14. For
more than half of these families, either both parents worked, or
the family was headed by a single working parent.
In fact, three
out of five mothers with children under age six work outside the
more mobile society also means that working parents are far less
likely to live near their extended family, the network of relatives
who assisted in child rearing in simpler times. Some form of child
care has to take up the slack.
Here is the
challenge: affordable, quality child care is hard to find.
Parents are often forced to accept expensive or poor quality care,
or no care at all. We must identify the competing factors that are
critical to financing good child care. Clearly, these factors include
the quality of services provided to children, the affordability
for parents, and fair compensation for child care providers.
All of these
issues must be addressed, and they must be addressed now.
So, the Administration
worked to get a provision in the Treasury and General Government
Appropriations Act calling for expanded child care subsidies. With
the President's signing of this Act, Federal agencies will now be
able to use appropriated funds - otherwise available for salaries
and expenses - to make safer, loving child care more affordable
for an additional one million children in low income families.
This is a
significant milestone since, for the first time, lower income Federal
families will find some financial relief to the ever-increasing
costs of child care.
That is our
goal for every family-friendly initiative that OPM sponsors, and
it ought to be the goal for every employer in the country.
of good news to coming out of this law is the permanent renewal
of the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, or VERA program. In
a nutshell, an important provision of the Early Out authority was
set to expire on September 30th - the provision that
allows agencies to target early outs by organization, grades, or
If this authority
had lapsed, it would have seriously affected agencies' ability to
use early retirements as an effective tool for managing major reorganizations,
reductions in force, or transfers of function.
the President's signing of this Act, the VERA program is back on
track and the flexibilities I highlighted are now permanently in
And, OPM immediately
began approving new agency VERA requests for FY 2000. In fact, we've
already approved 10 requests, most of them within 48 hours
of receiving them! So we are very pleased to be able to continue
to use this important workforce restructuring tool.
We have also
extended for another two years the highly effective and successful
career transition programs to assist Federal employees affected
the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) which
gives separated employees selection priority for jobs in other Federal
agencies. These programs not only help employees continue their
Federal careers, they also benefits agencies, which get the experienced
and well-qualified employees they require in this tight job market.
Now, in your
case, as civilian Air Force employees, I know that you have access
to DOD's own internal placement program, the Priority Placement
Program (PPP or "Stopper List") to be placed in other DOD activities
if your job is eliminated. But affected DOD employees not placed
through the PPP can exercise their right to selection priority under
the ICTAP to find jobs in non-DOD agencies, so this two year extension
is to your advantage as well.
President Clinton signed the National Defense Authorization Act
on October 5th, he authorized the repeal of the reductions
in retired or retainer pay previously required of retired members
of a uniformed service currently employed in civilian Federal positions.
effective retroactively to October 1st , ends two former
reductions in military retired pay required on some Federal employees.
eliminates the "double-dipping" pay cap that limited the combined
total of Federal civilian basic salary plus military retired pay
to $110,700 for all Federal employees who are retirees of a uniformed
it removed the partial reduction in retired pay required of retired
officers of a regular component of a uniformed service.
So, no longer
are we punishing retired members of the military for their desire
to continue their productive service to our nation as members of
the Federal community.
Now, as you
all know, there has been a great deal of talk about the Y2K bug
and how it will affect the Federal government.
We have already
identified and assessed all of OPM's mission-critical systems, and
I am proud to announce that we are now 100 percent Y2K OK.
And, to make
sure we are fully prepared for anything, we have a senior level
working group developing contingency plans, executing tests, and
what, I assure you that OPM will be ready when the clock
turns to January 1, 2000.
So there it
is - a broad overview of where we are at and where we hope to go.
Not necessarily from "A" to "Z", but rather from "A" to "Y2K".
that we cannot anticipate every change the future holds, but I also
know that by emphasizing adaptability and innovation, we will be
better able to adjust to any surprises the future may hold for us.
At OPM, we
are not afraid to try new things and experiment with new processes.
I encourage you to do the same.
It's a new
era. It's already begun. The Dinosaur Killer is here. So, I have
one simple piece of advice for you - don't be a dinosaur. Be nimble.
Adapt. Don't be afraid to change. In the long run, it is not only
in the government's best interest, it is in your best interest.
I look forward
to continuing to share ideas and innovations with you, as we each
create a new, more global workforce - built on the lessons of the
past, the innovations of the present, and the needs of the future
- to help our government move successfully into the 21st