Agency Spotlight–The Office of Personnel Management

May 1, 2017


This month our agency spotlight is on the Office of Personnel Management. Posts throughout the month will focus on their history, their mission and role in the government, the agency in the news, how OPM workers can become injured, and more.


OPM’s history dates to 1883 when the Civil Service Act ended the spoils system and established the Civil Service Commission. This Commission, led by Teddy Roosevelt, laid the foundation for impartial, professional civil based merit principles—that employees should be judged on how well they can do the job.

In 1978, the Civil Service Commission was reorganized into three new organizations; OPM, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Each took over a portion of Civil Service Commission responsibilities with OPM being responsible for personnel management of the civil service of the government.


OPM works in several broad categories to recruit, retain, and honor a workforce for the American people. They do this by:

  • Managing federal job announcement postings on and set the policy on government-wide hiring procedures.
  • Conduct background investigations for prospective employees and security clearances across the government, with hundreds of thousands of cases each year.
  • Uphold and define the merit systems in the federal civil service, making sure that the workforce uses fair practices in all aspects of personnel management.
  • Managing pension benefits for retired federal employees and their families. Also, administering health and other insurance programs for federal employees and retirees.
  • Providing training and development programs and other management tools for employees and agencies. Often, they take the lead in developing, testing, and implementing new government-wide policies that relate to personnel issues.

Mission and Role

Through their initiatives and programs, they seek to recruit and hire the best talent; to train and motivate employees to achieve their greatest potential, and to constantly promote an inclusive workforce that is defined by diverse perspectives.

OPM provides human resources, leadership, and support to federal agencies, and helps them achieve their aspirations as they serve the American people. Also, they are responsible for keeping the government running smoothly.


  • Make searching and applying for federal jobs easier and faster.
  • Provide federal employee benefits that are relevant, flexible, fair, and rewarding.
  • Make federal employment accessible and possible for every American who seeks it.
  • Retain a federal workforce as diverse and versatile as the work it does and the people it service.

The next post in this series will look at Policy and Oversight of OPM.

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