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Advancing the Strategic Management of Human Capital

Achieving Results

When the original Executive Branch Management Scorecard was released in 2001, no agency was "Green" (the highest level) in the area of Strategic Management of Human Capital. Today, 16 agencies have achieved this standard, with several others poised to join their ranks. Across Government, agency leaders are seeing the value of building strong and sustainable human capital programs and how these programs contribute to mission accomplishment.

Last quarter, Government agencies made considerable progress in strengthening their agency human capital accountability and performance management systems, analyzing Federal Human Capital Survey results in order to formulate action plans to address employee perspectives, incorporating Career Patterns into their recruitment strategies, and continuing efforts to reform their hiring processes. The Government achieved the strongest results ever for reducing the time to hire applicants into Federal service. The average time to hire an applicant dropped to 32 days (from 36 days the previous quarter), and the percentage of employees hired within 45 days reached 74 percent (from 71 percent the previous quarter). OPM's Hiring Toolkit and ongoing consultation with agencies have helped achieve this significant improvement in one of the key elements of an effective talent management system.

Assessing Agency Human Capital Accountability Systems

At the end of December 2006, 18 agencies submitted human capital accountability reports. These annual reports provide self-assessments of the performance of agency human capital programs and accountability systems. Agencies use these reports to identify program areas needing improvement. During the past quarter, OPM assessed these reports and held consulting sessions with agencies to discuss findings and suggestions for enhancing their human capital programs and accountability systems. Agency feedback from these sessions indicates that agencies are finding significant value in OPM's approach to analyzing and responding to the accountability reports. A Department of Transportation representative stated, "Everyone agreed that the feedback session was truly OUTSTANDING! We value the constructive manner in which OPM provided feedback to us." In addition, the Social Security Administration expressed its appreciation for OPM's thorough and professional review.

Improving Agency Performance through Action Planning

With the January release of 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey results, agencies are moving forward with analysis and action planning to address employee perspectives on agency human capital management. To support this effort, OPM hosted three forums in March 2007 to support agencies on survey action planning, as well as methods to meet the new Annual Employee Survey (AES) requirement legislated by Congress.

OPM held two forums on Survey Action Planning to assist agencies in using their 2007 Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) results to make organizational improvements. Federal agencies learned the principles of effective action planning, the key elements of an action plan, and how to ensure accountability for action planning initiatives. OPM is requiring agencies to develop and submit their action plans for review by the end of June 2007 as part of the scorecard process.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 established a requirement for agencies to survey their employees annually to assess employee views on a set of prescribed survey questions. To support agencies, OPM held a forum for agency representatives providing guidance on survey planning, administration, analysis, and reporting requirements. The AES will provide agencies with informative, agency-specific data on employee perspectives on the work environment, leadership and management practices, opportunity for professional development and growth, and opportunity to contribute to achieving organizational mission. OPM support on survey action planning is preparing agencies to use the results of AES to continue improving human capital management practices.

Connecting Career Patterns to Recruitment Efforts

Career Patterns is a new approach for bringing the next generation of employees into the Federal government. In preparation for the looming retirement wave, Federal agencies are shifting their thinking about the work environment to make them more appealing to non-traditional employees and applicants. Many federal agencies have begun to operate and hire using OPM's Career Patterns approach. Agencies have also developed workforce planning and marketing strategies to attract specific career pattern scenarios. These agencies have begun to market, and improve work environments, and to advertise the broad range of opportunities and arrangements that are available in their agencies. Evidence of agency progress can be found in improved vacancy announcements that highlight worklife characteristics that are important to applicants == including duty location, telework and other flexibilities, and agencies' missions and accomplishments.

Federal Competency Assessment Tools (FCAT) - Building Leadership and HRM Capacity

Agency leaders and human resources management professionals play critical roles in advancing agency performance and objectives. Ensuring they have the necessary skills to perform is a critical component of the human capital initiative.

OPM has developed the Federal Competency Assessment Tools for Management (FCAT-M) and Human Resources (FCAT-HR) for agencies to identify competency gaps in the areas of leadership, performance management and human resource management. The FCATs are Web-based tools that allow employees to receive self- and supervisory assessments in specific competencies. The FCAT-Management includes 34 key leadership competencies, including 6 performance management competencies aimed at determining readiness to manage in results-driven environments. The FCAT-Human Resources includes 9 competencies determined by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council as those necessary for HRM specialists to perform technical functions and meet future business challenges. The FCAT-Human Resources also includes three performance management competencies critical for enabling agency human resource managers to build and support results-oriented performance cultures.

Agencies can use assessment results to identify areas for improvement, inform their succession management strategies, and develop competency gap closure initiatives. The FCATs can be accessed from the OPM website through the end of July 2007. Thereafter, the tools will be available at least once a year for 3-month assessment periods that will be announced in advance by OPM.

More Information

For more information on how OPM is supporting agencies with their human capital efforts, visit www.opm.gov and click on “Strategic Management of Human Capital.” You will find excellent information resources and reports, including the Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF) Resource Center. The Resource Center offers practical tools and solutions for improving human capital programs.

Director Linda M. Springer
Office of Personnel Management