Copy of Material Posted at the
U.S. Office of Personnel Management Website
Transcript of a
Scott Michaud, Senior Speechwriter
Speech by Janice R. Lachance, Director,
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1999 US Air Force Civilian Personnel Workshop
October 13, 1999
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 change.
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
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 environments.
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 another tomorrow.
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
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
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
For example, 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 needs.
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
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.
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
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
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 nots."
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
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 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
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 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 employee.
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.
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
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
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
To complement the work being done by the Task Force, the
President also directed OPM to establish an Advisory
Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities.
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 knowledge.
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
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
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 right track.
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
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.
First, we must have flexible performance and pay systems
that support high performance, and encourage employees to do
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
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 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
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
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 it takes.
Our mission is too important, our opportunities to great, to
accept anything less than constructive engagement and
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
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
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
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 competition.
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
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 workers.
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 2000.
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
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
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
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
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 law!
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 by downsizing.
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
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 service.
And, second, it removed the partial reduction in retired pay
required of retired officers of a regular component of a
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
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 conducting rehearsals.
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
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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