U.S. Office of
Speech by Janice
Office of Personnel
1999 US Air Force Civilian Personnel
October 13, 1999
Thank you, Susan [Pamerleau] for that kind introduction. It is a
pleasure for me to be here today. Your theme 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
How we lead this change will mean the difference between success and
failure as a Federal workforce.
People talk 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.
Lately, I 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.
Instead, I 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
We already see the trends for the next millennium. And the theme is
"Adapt or be pushed aside."
Organizations 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.
Full-time, 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.
Fewer jobs will fit into a neat job description. And our core
government employees will be called upon to perform one role today and
Obviously, 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.
Organizations 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.
The result 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.
Another trend we see is that Federal Government operations and
decision-making authority will continue to be decentralized.
For example, we are working to promote partnership and empower
front-line employees to give them a greater say in problem-solving and
We must find ways to promote the potential of our employees -
making them more knowledgeable, more adaptable, and better able to meet
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.
Another change 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
Where and 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 24-7!
Middle management 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 of performance.
In other words, they either grow the wings they need to survive, or
they will become extinct.
But, through 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.
With that 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
We will have to cope with skill obsolescence that leads to job
displacement and organizational restructuring.
Our increased capability to monitor employees by computer may erode
their rights to privacy.
In addition, 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
That, in and of itself, is quite different from past workplace learning
and development challenges.
Workers' values 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.
One element 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.
Learning has become an economic and pocketbook issue for employees, and
unions are increasingly interested in the training needs of employees.
These trends 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?
Well, because 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.
Agencies must 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
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
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
Two current 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.
Its purpose 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
To complement the work being done by the Task Force, the President also
directed OPM to establish an Advisory Committee on Expanding Training
The Committee will be appointed by the President and will be made up of
private sector representatives - from research, education, labor,
training, and information technology.
They will 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 software.
They will 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
WHETHER we 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.
This Task 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.
This Federal Learning Technology Strategy came out of the Vice
President's Lifelong Learning Summit, which took place last January.
This event heralded a vision and call to action for lifelong learning
for all Americans.
Vice President Gore told the group, "Realizing our potential will
require investing in education and learning for all of our people
throughout their lifetimes."
So, we must ensure that the Federal government's policies regarding
employee training apply to every employee. And I believe we are on the
This Administration 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.
That's what 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.
I continue 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
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
First, we must have flexible performance and pay systems that support
high performance, and encourage employees to do their best;
And, second, 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.
Of course, 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.
Along with these proposed flexibilities for managers to select and
manage the high quality, diverse workforce they need, we are also
introducing real accountability.
This accountability translates into more emphasis on performance
measurement, and ultimately, it also translates to improved recognition
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.
So, building 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
Our mission 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.
First and 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.
These measures 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.
Another important improvement is that all of the plans must establish
procedures to allow patients to review and obtain copies of their own
personal medical records.
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.
Personally 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!
And speaking 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.
Under the 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 population possible.
Our proposal 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.
This means 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
This insurance 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.
Now, once 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
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
This will be the largest overall Federal pay increase since 1981 -
almost 20 years ago!
We anticipate 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.
Final decisions 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.
Another major 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.
The Bureau 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 home.
And today's 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
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
Another piece 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 series.
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
Instead, with 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
This includes 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.
And, when 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.
The repeal, effective retroactively to October 1st , ends
two former reductions in military retired pay required on some Federal
First, it 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
And, second, 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
No matter 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".
I realize 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 century.
Are there any questions?
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