Magazine article Workforce

Touching the Lives of Millions

Magazine article Workforce

Touching the Lives of Millions

Article excerpt

WORKFORCE talked with Janice R. Lachance, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, about managing human resources for the federal government:

Q: What is your professional background, and how did you come to work with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)?

A: I first came to OPM in August 1993 as director of communications. Then in 1996, I was named chief of staff at OPM and served in that position until I was confirmed as OPM deputy director in August 1997. This was after our former director, James B. King, returned to academia. Prior to joining OPM, I served as director of communications and political affairs for the American Federation of Government Employees (a union affiliated with the AFL-CIO). I'm a graduate of Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and received my law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans.

Q: What do you like most about working for the federal government?

A: It gives me the opportunity to effect change on a large scale and truly impact the lives of millions of Americans. This is a very small agency by federal standards, but we touch the lives of 10 million Americans every day: employees, retirees and their families. And of course, we provide policy and human resources leadership for two million civilian employees.

Q: What's the toughest part of your job?

A: Constantly dealing with shrinking resources. Because the OPM significantly downsized after Clinton took office in 1993, we've cut our workforce by 45 percent and have shrunk our budget by a third. The era of big government is over, but OPM [managers] still want to make an impact by expanding our investment in technology and providing better customer service.

Q: What advice do you have for HR professionals in the public sector?

A: For those in human resources, there are two things: Whether you're reorganizing, refocusing your mission or downsizing, make the decision and move quickly. …

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