Federal Eye: OPM Nominee John Berry Sails Through Confirmation Hearing

The Obama administration’s nominee to serve as director of the Office of Personnel Management easily handled the Senate confirmation process today before a hearing room packed with family, friends and colleagues. John Berry vowed that if confirmed, the federal government will become the nation’s “model employer.”

The OPM director serves as the human resources manager for the federal government’s more than 2 million employees. Among many other tasks, it falls to the director to decide when to close federal government offices in the Washington, D.C. area due to inclement weather. Berry’s expected to easily win Senate confirmation, thus a jovial atmosphere at today’s hearing.

“I’d like the federal government to be the best employer, the model employer for the nation,” Berry told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, adding later that “We need to put in place what works.”

He noted that the federal government faces “a new reality” with shifting demographics and employment trends. “The youth of today may not envision staying with one employer for the entirety of their careers. We need to balance and mix flexible benefit approaches…with our existing more traditional, tenure-like model, to appeal to the broadest possible range of workers.”

Among other things, Berry also promised an “open access” policy in his relations with federal workers unions, who have enthusiastically endorsed his nomination.

“People are looking to the federal government for strong, effective leadership fro the most senior officials to the front-line employees. Having the right talent in the right jobs is more important now than ever,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), who chaired the hearing.

“You’re going to have to spend the next few years shaping that place up,” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) told Berry, urging him to address the federal government’s hiring process, which the senator said is “in the dark ages.”

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