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Building a Strong Federal Workforce: Investing in Our Future

The federal workforce is the backbone of any country’s governance system. It comprises talented and skilled individuals responsible for implementing policies, providing essential services to citizens, and responding to emergencies promptly. The federal workforce has significantly transformed recently, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increased emphasis on telework.

According to the Office of Personnel Management’s December 2021 telework report, 90% of eligible federal employees used telework for the fiscal year 2020, up 34% from the previous year. This shift has enabled employees to work more comfortably and safely from home and kept the Government’s operations running smoothly.

A robust federal workforce ensures effective and efficient governance, promotes accountability and builds public trust. In addition, it helps attract and retain talent, improving the Government’s reputation, and creates an environment that fosters innovation and continuous improvement. Therefore, investing in the federal workforce is critical for achieving long-term economic growth, social progress, and political stability. In this blog, we will explore the significance of strengthening and empowering the federal workforce and how it can positively impact the Government’s overall performance.

Importance of a Robust Federal Workforce

It’s a unique chance for the Federal Government to reconsider workforce planning and management. For the first time in recent memory, the President’s Management Agenda’s top priority is strengthening and empowering the Federal workforce. As a result, agencies will take action to ensure that the Federal workforce is robust, empowered, and well-equipped to successfully serve the public through the PMA and with support from the President’s Budget.

Agencies require the right talent at the right time for the right job. As the largest employer in the country, the Federal Government is no exception. This includes enhancing government processes for recruiting, retaining, and training individuals with the necessary skills to carry out agency missions and creating a workforce that accurately reflects America’s complete diversity at every level of employment.

In today’s world, a robust federal government is more important than ever before. The Federal Government plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of the nation, protecting the environment, providing healthcare services, and promoting economic development. It is also responsible for addressing emerging challenges such as climate change, cybersecurity threats, and public health crises. A strong federal government with a skilled and dedicated workforce is essential to effectively address these challenges and ensure that the needs of the public are met.

Strengthening The Federal Workforce

CHALLENGES

The federal workforce faces several challenges that impact its effectiveness and efficiency. One major challenge is the aging of the workforce, with many employees nearing retirement age and a need for younger workers to fill these positions. This can lead to a loss of institutional knowledge and experience and difficulty recruiting and retaining top talent. Another challenge is the political polarization that can create a divisive work environment and hinder collaboration and communication between agencies.

STEPS TO STRENGTHEN THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE

To strengthen the federal workforce, the Government can take several steps. One essential action is investing in employee training and development programs, particularly digital skills, leadership, diversity, and inclusion. Additionally, the Government can implement policies that support employee engagement and job satisfaction, such as flexible work arrangements and opportunities for career advancement. This can attract and retain talented individuals and foster a positive work environment.

To create a strong and effective federal workforce, the following strategies should be implemented:

1.       Prioritize diversity and inclusion in the recruitment and hiring process to ensure that the best candidates from all backgrounds are selected for appropriate positions within the Federal Government.

2.       Foster a positive work culture where every position is valued and employees can learn and grow professionally. Workers should also be able to join a union and have a say in their workplace, leading to increased job satisfaction and career success.

3.       Look to the future by reimagining federal employment and creating a path that aligns with workforce and workplace trends, incorporating lessons learned from the pandemic.

4.       Develop a robust personnel system with the necessary support to ensure the Federal Government can complete its agency missions while serving as a model employer for other organizations. This will require ongoing monitoring and adaptation to meet the changing needs of the workforce and the country.

Empowering Federal Workforce Is a Need Today

The need to empower the federal workforce has never been more crucial than it is today. With immediate and long-term challenges facing the Government, it is essential to find, employ, train, and empower highly qualified individuals who can rise to the occasion. To achieve this goal, federal agencies must utilize the lessons learned from the pandemic to create a modern and forward-thinking employer that offers exceptional career growth and development opportunities.

To make every federal job a good job, agencies must collaborate with public servants and stakeholders inside and outside the Government to map out the future of federal employment. The PMA’s vision provides a roadmap for achieving an equitable, productive, and responsible federal Government that produces outcomes for all. By concentrating funding on specific federal workforce programs and implementing a multi-year strategy, we can create the foundation for success and ensure the administration’s priority to strengthen and empower the federal workforce is achieved. This approach will benefit our Government and improve the lives of the American people.

•Attract and hire the best candidates by creating a diverse and skilled early-career pipeline by supporting expanded paid internship programs at the federal level and allocating funds.

• Expand on the idea of “Talent Teams” for federal agencies, which was first mentioned in the 2022 Budget and offers a way to pinpoint an organization’s strategic human capital needs and translate those needs into recruiting decisions.

• Streamline Federal hiring procedures by expanding cutting-edge hiring and assessment methods like Subject Matter Expert Qualification Assessments (SMEQA) and enabling agencies to rapidly share qualified applicant lists to discover and hire top candidates.

• By reforming, rethinking, and bolstering Federal Executive Boards (FEBs) across the country, you may increase the Federal presence, capacity, and recruitment efforts in communities outside the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Case Studies: Robust Federal Workforce Initiatives

By investing in employee training and development, promoting a positive work environment, and identifying and addressing workforce needs, federal agencies can build a strong and effective workforce that can deliver on their mission and serve the American people.

The following are a few examples of federal government initiatives to strengthen their workforce:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): The USDA has implemented several Pathways Programs, including the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and Presidential Management Fellows Program, to attract and retain top talent. The programs offer participants hands-on experience, training, and mentorship, leading to improved employee retention rates and a more robust workforce.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): The VA launched the “Choose VA” campaign to attract and retain healthcare professionals to work for the VA. The campaign highlights the VA’s commitment to veterans’ healthcare and offers competitive benefits and opportunities for career advancement. As a result of the campaign, the VA has seen an increase in healthcare professional hires and improved employee satisfaction.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) workforce development initiatives: The DOE has implemented several industries, including the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program and the Office of Science’s Community College Internship Program. These initiatives provide opportunities for underrepresented groups to gain hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, leading to a more diverse and skilled workforce.

The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Talent Management Program: The GSA has implemented a Talent Management Program to attract and retain top talent and build a more agile workforce. The program offers employees career development opportunities, mentorship, and leadership training, leading to improved employee satisfaction and retentionrates.

Conclusion

Strengthening and empowering the federal Government’s workforce is critical to its success in serving Americans. By investing in initiatives that attract and retain top talent, provide hands-on experience, offer training and mentorship opportunities, and build a more diverse and skilled workforce, Federal agencies can deliver high-quality services and meet the needs of their constituents. The examples outlined in this blog of USDA’s Pathways Programs, the VA’s “Choose VA” campaign, the DOE’s workforce development initiatives, and the GSA’s Talent Management Program demonstrate that a robust and empowered workforce is essential to achieving these goals.

The Federal Government’s initiatives to find policies and workforce plans that support high-performance work environments and encourage employee involvement will not only help agencies retain capable and devoted personnel. Yet, they will also build a pipeline of capable federal leaders, resulting in improved services for the American people and elevated confidence in the Government. The Federal Government will also become the role-model employer it wants for its workers and people by working to be an equitable, prosperous, and responsible government that delivers results for all.

As we look to the future, the Federal Government must continue to prioritize workforce development and invest in initiatives that will lead to a more skilled, diverse, and agile workforce capable of meeting the ever-evolving needs of civilians.

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