OPM Identifies Priorities for Federal Workforce in New Report

OPM has released its quadrennial identifying future challenges and priorities for the federal workforce.

The Office of Personnel Management has released its quadrennial report on the federal workforce in which it identifies six priorities that align with the goals of the Trump administration as well as highlights findings from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.


The Office of Management and Budget released a report last April entitled Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce. It instructed agencies to “achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings” and to develop a plan to maximize employee performance, among other things.

OPM’s new report says the priorities it identifies “align with and support the Administration’s initiatives to reshape the workforce and maximize employee performance as outlined in the [OMB] memo.”

OPM’s report outlines the following six priorities in the areas of reshaping the federal workforce and maximizing employee performance.

Workforce Reshaping

Priority 1: Succession Planning and Knowledge Transfer

Conduct succession planning activities to retain and transfer institutional knowledge, as workforce reshaping efforts are undertaken.

Priority 2: Deploying Communication Tools

Adopt tools that allow employees to easily connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another regardless of geographic location.

Priority 3: Securing Technological Solutions for Human Capital Analysis

OPM will seek to acquire or develop enterprise technological solutions to assist the Federal human capital community with human capital analysis.

Maximizing Employee Performance

Priority 4: Expanding Employee Development Opportunities

Provide employees with ample opportunities for continuous professional growth and skill development.

Priority 5: Bolstering Employee Recognition Programs

Administer robust programs to appropriately recognize and reward employees who demonstrate high levels of performance and significantly contribute to achieving organizational goals.

Priority 6: Enhancing Productivity through a Focus on Employee Health

Encourage employees to engage in physical fitness activities during time spent commuting and being at work.

Promoting Physical Activity at Work

The report goes into additional detail in each area. With respect to priority number 6 (employee health and wellness), OPM’s report outlines the benefits of having a healthy federal workforce. On this subject, it offered ideas for ways agencies can foster efforts to have healthier employees. It did not say any of these things were mandatory or would be coming to agencies in the near future; rather, it outlined the benefits of having a healthy workforce and cited supporting research for each suggestion that found success with implementing the activities in other organizations.

Install Standing Desks

The report said, “Stand-capable desks allow employees to quickly adjust their desk stations between sitting and standing positions. They are relatively inexpensive and readily available to agencies through the General Services Administration Global Supply.”

Perhaps federal employees may have these to look forward to at their agencies in the future?

Encourage Exercise During Breaks

OPM’s report notes that in 2016, employers were subsidizing exercise by offering benefits such as onsite fitness centers and classes or even subsidies or reimbursements for offsite fitness center memberships. The report also cited research which found that employees who exercised regularly onsite at their organizations, usually for 45 minutes or less, showed improved mood and performance on days that they exercised.

Cost can sometimes be a consideration with providing benefits such as these, however, particularly when subjected to public scrutiny. It was reported not long ago that the EPA was doing away with a gym membership benefit that had been granted to some employees after a report showed that it led to a $15,000 tab for taxpayers.

The complete report (included below) goes into additional detail about future challenges and opportunities for the federal workforce such as shifting demographics in the workplace and succession planning.

2018 Federal Workforce Priorities Report

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.