By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

New survey will give insight on fed workforce competencies

The federal government, according to the Office of Personnel Management, directly employees an estimated 2.1 million people in its civilian workforce—placing it in the stratosphere of job providers in the United States. With so many employees, tasked to do so many things—in an ever-changing society and labor pool environment—to succeed in their mission, federal agency leaders have a tremendous need for information about their workforce.

This month, OPM announced the kickoff of its Federal Workforce Competency Initiative (FWCI), a random survey of federal employees aimed at gathering data on the federal workforce and its competencies. A sample of feds across a wide range of agencies will receive the FWCI.

“The FWCI is an opportunity for OPM to work together with agencies to identify the competencies most important for success,” Kathleen McGettigan, OPM’s Acting Director. “It will contribute critical data needed to continue building the foundation for effective human capital management across the federal government.”

FWCI hones in on acquiring information useful in adjusting and optimizing “job design, recruitment, selection, performance management, training, and career development,” according to OPM.

FWCI is another step in a number of OPM’s Multipurpose Occupational Systems Analysis Inventory (MOSAIC) studies—studies conducted for several decades.

This survey is called phase one, covering “general” competencies. A follow-up will cover “technical” competencies, specific to each agency.

Many fundamental human resources practices—guided by laws and regulations governing employment—are standardized across scores of agencies and hundreds of subunits, notably in the form of merit principles and the General Schedule (GS) system.

Yet, each agency has different missions and employee pools. So each unique agency needs insight on its own worker strengths and challenges in order to optimize recruiting, hiring and retention of employees.

Still, obtaining government-wide data on competencies is the crucial starting place, according to OPM.

“This centralized data collection approach offers efficiencies and cost savings to agencies by having OPM collect job analysis data once and eliminating the need for single agency studies,” the agency said in its announcement.

Obtaining and studying fresh data on employee and agency competencies is crucial in synching the agency’s needs with the wants, needs—and capabilities—of its workforce. Current, accurate information can be used to improve and maintain rational job design, career development and messaging to potential and current employees.

2021 Digital Almanac

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