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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Recruiting, Retaining and Honoring a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People

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At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) we are using this tool to reach out to our stakeholders in a new way. We want to hear from you about how we can better serve you, whether you’re a member of the general public, an advocate for good government, or an employee of OPM or another agency. Please comment here on our Open Government Plan and help us with new, concrete ideas on how to make OPM better. Please visit us here and at often.

On August 29, OPM hosted the group Drupal4Gov for an event about open source technology and the Federal Digital Government Strategy. More than 100 people attended the event. They discussed how agencies can use open source applications (e.g., Drupal or WordPress) for:

  • Managing their technology more effectively and with lower costs
  • Creating websites that are easy to use on different devices and screen sizes through mobile apps and new techniques such as responsive design

Deputy Chief of Staff Justin Johnson and Chief Information Officer Matthew Perry gave an overview of OPM's work and then introduced the two keynote speakers. Gray Brooks, Senior API Strategy at the Digital Services Innovation Center, talked about the impact of the Digital Government Strategy, and Joshua Davis, founder of Mil-OSS, spoke of the Defense Department's work in making open source software secure.

After the keynotes, there were conference sessions on data and security, policy, and advanced technical topics, as well as a hands-on workshop.

The workshop was the second meeting of the Drupal4Gov Ladder community, a governmentwide group of developers who meet regularly to create open source modules and applications for free distribution to government agencies. Over 50 participants broke up into 3 groups. Beginners created their first Drupal site. Others learned more advanced techniques. Still others collaborated to create a new Drupal module: in under 3 hours, they decided on features for the module, designed it, tested it, and distributed it for other members of the open source community to use in their sites. This was the Drupal4Gov Ladder community’s first successful effort in creating and distributing a shared module.

The comments participants offered in the closing session were overwhelmingly positive. They were excited about the knowledge they'd gained and their contributions to sharing knowledge among government agencies. They were very grateful to OPM for hosting the event – as one attendee put it: "OPM hit it out of the park hosting us and providing a great event."

Many thanks to all the volunteers who made this event a success!

Follow OPM’s implementation of the Digital Strategy on our Digital Strategy page.

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Posted 3:38 PM by

Today we released our first annual Plain Writing Act Compliance Report. We invite you to give it a read.

As you will see in the report, we've primarily focused our efforts on informing and training our own OPM employees. We're also de-cluttering our website and beginning to ensure our documents are written in plain language for everyone. However, we'd like your help. Keep an eye out for a challenge we will issue for you to identify OPM documents we should make easier to understand using plain language.

Until then, we'd love to hear your comments on the report and how you think we’re doing with the plain writing initiative. Please leave us your comments in – you guessed it – the "Comments" section.

Comments 23     2 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share

Version 2 of our Open Government Plan moves us from strategy to implementation of ideas from the original plan. It also presents ideas that have emerged since we published Version 1 in 2010.

Read Version 2 to learn more about our new initiatives:

  • Enhancing OPM’s Performance Management Culture
  • Establishing Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Other Networks for Innovation
  • Flagship Initiative: Centralizing Call Centers and Help Desks
  • Enabling Widespread and Uniform Use of Social Media
  • Proactively Disclosing Information via

As we make progress on each of these initiatives, we'll periodically post information about them here. We'd love to hear any innovative ideas you have about implementing them.

    Comments 4     0 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share
    It's hard to believe almost two years have already passed since we first published our Open Government Plan! We're writing version 2, which we'll publish in April. We'd love to hear your ideas – please drop us a note in the comments section.

    Comments 34     0 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share
    Posted 2:41 PM by

    If you have a question about our policies or services, try our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). There you’ll see a list of the top 10 questions. You’ll also be able to browse by topics such as insurance, retirement, or personnel documentation. Or you can search by keyword.

    We encourage you to use the FAQs to their fullest to get answers to your questions, and we welcome your comments on our open government efforts here.

    Comments 530     8 thumbs up     11 thumbs down Share

    The Office of Management and Budget recently requested a self-evaluation of each Executive Branch agency’s Open Government efforts. Some of the areas evaluated are publishing government information on our website, improving the quality of the information we provide, and ways we encourage participation with citizens. In 2010 we conducted our first self assessment. We are happy to report we have continued to make significant progress on all three tenets of openness: transparency, collaboration, and participation. Our recent activities include:

    • Hiring a dedicated records officer who has been systematically implementing improvements to records management at OPM.
    • Exploring social media for interacting with the public. We have Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube accounts, all accessible from our homepage. We were particularly pleased to receive kudos on a recent earthquake-related Facebook post: "Thanks for keeping us informed! You guys are doing a great job in using social media to keep feds informed."
    • Expanding online training for OPM employees with integrated social media tools, one of which allows users to share comments on books in our online library.
    • Using a crowdsourcing tool to get ideas from employees on how to improve our work and environment here at OPM.

    Of course we will continue to work with our employees, our customers and other federal agencies on ways we can improve. In the next few weeks we’ll ask for your feedback on plain writing in our documents and then report back to you on our progress. We remain committed to working with and for you. Please feel free to leave your comments on how to make OPM more open here on our blog.

    Comments 20     1 thumbs up     4 thumbs down Share
    Posted 4:57 PM by

    You Have Questions…We Have Answers

    We have created a searchable Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) site designed to make finding and sharing information more efficient for our employees, external stakeholders and you, the general public.

    The searchable FAQs are available at and contain information across all program areas. You can search for information using common language (e.g., What is Open Government?) or browse by topic (e.g., Senior Executive Service). Answers to your questions are displayed immediately and a list of the Top10 Questions is also available for review. Many questions can be answered right away with FAQs. Why wait in line on the phone? Go online today. Ready, set, search!!!

    Comments 23     0 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share
    Posted 10:50 AM by

    On October 13, 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law. This Act requires all Federal agencies to write most documents in plain language and requires all new covered documents to be written in plain language beginning October 13th.

    As you know, plain language is communicating with your audience so they understand what you're saying the first time they read or hear it. It's worth remembering that language that is "plain" to one set of readers may not be plain to others. So keeping in mind who your audience is will help immeasurably.

    Written material is in plain language if your audience can easily:

    • Find what they need;
    • Understand what they find; and
    • Use what they find to meet their needs.

    What kind of documents should be written in plain language? Any document that (1) is necessary for obtaining any Federal Government benefit or service or filing taxes, (2) provides information about any Federal Government benefit or service, or (3) explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces. This includes (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction and does not include regulations.

    Want to learn more? Online plain language training is available from the National Institutes of Health at You don’t have to login, just click Browse to get started.

    If you have any questions, please visit our Plain Language site or feel free to leave us a comment here.

    Comments 18     0 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share

    IT is a critical component of OPM’s ability to supply the Federal Government with the most talented, highest performing workforce available.  We maintain important websites such as, administer benefits for millions of federal employees, and provide critical HR support for every federal agency.  Each of these tasks is information intensive, thus OPM’s implementation of the 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management.  My staff and I are working tirelessly to implement these important reforms.

    OPM has a unique role in the larger IT Reform agenda in our creation of an IT Program Management career path.  Over the past six months we have worked on a tight time frame to establish this new career track for our high-performing program managers.  We have published the classification title for IT program managers, researched the need for direct hire authority for IT program managers, and are in the process of developing an IT program manager competency model.  As CIO, I am extremely proud of the work that my team has accomplished in this initiative and feel that this new career track will have a dramatic affect on the performance of IT programs across the Federal Government for the foreseeable future.  

    A major goal of our agency is to move more processes to shared services or cloud platforms.  This centralization will lead to both cost savings and improved performance.  We have already begun to move the majority of our web services, including, to cloud-based platforms.  We are also moving our document management to the cloud, which will allow OPM employees to share information much more efficiently.  We expect that these changes alone will save the agency over $200k per year.  This “Cloud First” philosophy is central to our department’s strategic plan for federal IT which includes our goal to reduce our Operations and Management expenditures by 10% per year over the next three years.

    We held our first departmental Tech Stat session on March 30th, where we evaluated our Health Claims Data Warehouse.  We identified several key management and communications issues that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the system’s continued success.  We established a plan for improved governance of the program by establishing stronger communication channels between key stakeholders and with the Executive Steering Committee.  Further, we expect to avoid significant future costs as a result of these improvements.  As we go forward, the TechStat process will continue to be a vital component of our IT Management plan.

    As we continue to implementation the IT Reform plan, I am encouraged by the remarkable progress I see here at OPM and across the entire government.  This progress and the resulting best practices are both positive signs for the future of IT Reform.  While there are challenges ahead, the ambitious goals set forth both in the plan and by our agency will push us to achieve results as we work to recruit the next generation of talented, dynamic federal employees.

    Matthew E. Perry is the Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

    Comments 18     0 thumbs up     0 thumbs down Share


    Learn More

    If you would like to learn more about the OpenOPM initiative, visit


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