The Federal Employees’ Cookbook

New people bring new ideas. OPM’s John Berry has been creative by urging time off for some in DC to get an extra hour to walk to the cherry blossoms and, later this week, hosting an event to come up with new recipes from federal employees to go into a federal government cookbook.

A new administration and new political appointees can bring new ideas and new directions to the vast machinery of the federal government.

In most instances, the changes are in philosophy of governing, changes in priorities, spending and how to satisfy the multitude of interest groups served by federal agencies.

Some of the more public changes that impact the federal community are from the Office of Personnel Management. The more obvious and potentially far-reaching changes are likely to be changes in how new federal employees are hired, changes in performance management, and how the federal human resources structure is to be managed and implemented. (See, for example, Changing the Federal Hiring Process.)

But there are other changes as well. We recently ran a short survey about a new OPM policy on granting administrative leave for OPM employees in Washington to take an extra hour to walk to the Tidal Basin and check out the cherry blossoms. Most readers who took the survey thought this was a good idea. (See Time Off, With Pay, to Smell the Flowers? Readers Like the Idea) Whether you think it is a good idea or not, there is no doubt that the suggestion is creative and unusual in the federal bureaucracy.

And the creativity has not ended there. OPM has asked federal employees to send in their favorite food recipe in a program called the “Healthy Recipe Challenge.” The agency describes the “recipe challenge” as a program to encourage federal employees to submit “an original healthy recipe that is both nutritious and delicious”.The factors to be used in judging are “most nutritious, most delicious, most creative, most likely to actually be made by busy working employees, most attractive, and/or recipes suitable for special dietary restrictions or needs.”

Each winning recipe will be published in a federal government cookbook with the winner’s name, picture, and recipe. The cook-off/recipe tasting winners will receive a copy of the cookbook autographed by the judges.

In the Washington, DC area the judges will include OPM director John Berry along with a nutritionist, a chef and a former NFL football player. The final judging in various parts of the country will be finished this week.

Whether a federal employee cookbook for “nutritious and delicious” recipes is a good idea or not will undoubtedly generate a wide variety of opinions. But, as as a demonstration of a new approach to governing and a different style of leadership in the federal human resources community, it has to be considered a creative first endeavor.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47