HR shuffle changes how agencies work with OPM

Tuesday - 1/29/2013, 9:05pm EST

When agency human-resources officials have questions about pay, leave or other workforce policies, they typically turn to the Office of Personnel Management's stable of internal human capital officers. The HCOs act as OPM ambassadors to individual agencies and provide advice and guidance on particular policies.

But going forward, OPM is phasing out the HCO role and agencies will instead work through specific OPM policy offices to get their questions answered, according to a Jan. 25 memo from OPM Associate Director of Employee Services Angela Bailey.

"This will not only provide you a direct line for guidance on employment programs, policy advisories and approvals, and technical assistance, it will also expand your opportunity to share ideas on policy, solutions and practices directly with our policy staff who deal intimately with these issues," Bailey said in the memo, which was addressed to agency chief human capital officers.

The HCOs, meanwhile, will transition to a new role — "HR strategists" — to develop more innovative workforce policies and pilot projects.

"The HCOs will shift their focus from servicing a specific list of agencies, to driving innovative new practices across government through pilot projects that address the administration's most critical priorities ... OPM is asking these HR professionals to partner with you to design, implement and assess pilot projects in areas such as skills gap closure, workforce restructuring, and other priority areas of HR," Bailey wrote in the memo.

The shuffle is part of a broader revamp of OPM's HR policy shop. Among the biggest changes is the creation of the Center for Strategic Workforce Planning.

The new office, situated within OPM's Employee Services organization, will focus on fostering innovation in federal workforce policies and plotting future HR trends.

The new workforce center will be led by Sydney Smith-Heimbrock, who is also the dean of OPM's HR University and the executive director of its Innovation Lab.

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