The Office of Organization and Talent Analytics’s staff, front row, from left: Paul Gilmore, Veronica Lange, Nakiea Dade, Marianne Grady, Anisha Anderson, Valencia Ford, Jacqueline Ridley, Vladmira Reistad, Lindsay Huntemann, Jeffrey D. Miller, Tyler Baker, Andrea Purba, Monica Bedi, Anastasia Miller, Teanisha Cates; back row, from left: Corey Jones, Andrea Stephenson, Robin Avery-Barnard, Megan Nguyen, Jason Williams, Albert Pasquarella, Carolyn Barnes, Maurice Urbain, Sarah Alonso, Jim Rider, Robert Alexander, Walter Rives, Kevin Raney, Francisco Trigo. Photo by Luis A. Jimenez Jr.
By Anisha Anderson and Jeffrey D. Miller
The Department of State’s Office of Organization and Talent Analytics (OTA) is a part of the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM). As part of GTM’s modernization effort, the office was recently rebranded to OTA from the Office of Resource Management and Organizational Analysis (RMA), and it continues to play a special role in supporting the Department’s mission as the office with the expertise, policies, programs, and tools to develop, track, predict, analyze, and interpret central workforce data trends and statistics.
The office is composed of specialized analysts across four distinct but complementary divisions: Resource Planning and Allocation (RPA), Workforce Planning and Analysis (WPA), Classification and Compensation Policy (CCP), and Organizational Analysis (OAS), as well as a data science team. In April, OTA became the home of the first data science position in the Department, strengthening its ability and credibility to provide strong workforce analytics used by key decision makers. All four divisions and the data science team regularly work with senior Department principals, various strategic partners, and human resource (HR) practitioners to help plan and use their resource allocations and workforce data in the most optimal way to achieve mission goals. These divisions also work with one another on specialized workforce studies, organizational assessments, competency studies, projection models, worldwide classification reviews, and even some of the Secretary of State’s current Modernization Agenda initiatives.
RPA is responsible for aligning the strategic goals and objectives of the Department to the resource demands of the Foreign Service (FS) and Civil Service (CS) workforces. Resource allocation needs evolve just as quickly as Department priorities do, which necessitates close monitoring, tracking, and reporting. Each month, RPA reports on the official employment and position levels of the workforce Department-wide.
RPA also works very closely with the Bureau of Budget and Planning to support the Department’s annual budget review process with the Office of Management and Budget as well as with Congress. When the Department’s annual budget is approved, RPA then works with the bureau executive offices through the remainder of the fiscal year to manage their employment levels, ensuring they hire within authorized employment ceilings.
Additionally, RPA, as a strategic partner in the FS intake planning process as a member of the Strategic Workforce Planning Group, performs workforce staffing modeling through the Overseas Staffing Model and domestic workforce planning studies; provides detailed position analyses for global position reviews and strategic staffing initiatives; and produces workforce competency studies that target various employee skill groups.
WPA provides a wide range of human capital analyses focused on FS promotion modeling, FS and CS attrition, human capital surveys, statistical reporting, and the Department’s Five-Year Workforce Plan.
WPA supports many bureaus and offices with a wide variety of routine and customized workforce statistical reports. Examples include diversity and inclusion analyses, which look at attrition, hirings, promotions, performance evaluations, and awards trends by occupation, rank, and employee demographics.
In May, WPA calculated FS promotion opportunities for the upcoming FY22 promotion cycle. It does so every year using the FS Model, calculating the Department’s projected requirements and resources (employees and positions) to determine the optimal number of promotion opportunities in each cone and specialty at each grade. The output provides the director general with options to address surpluses and deficits while considering promotion rates.
Understanding and predicting workforce attrition is critical to ensuring proper resourcing and staffing across the Department. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended traditional staffing predictability, pushing WPA to develop a more robust attrition algorithm to keep bureaus more informed of their workforce retention expectations, and reasons for attrition. Aside from communicating with bureau leadership on this topic, WPA analysts are working with GTM’s Retention Unit by providing analysis of workforce trends to also inform the Department’s retention strategy.
Liaising with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), WPA coordinates the Department’s participation in the Federal Employees’ Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) and any FEVS-related government-wide initiatives. WPA also developed and manages the Department’s first-ever centralized exit survey, designed to assess the overall employee experience for all FS and CS employees who are retiring or leaving to pursue other opportunities. Beyond the FEVS and exit surveys, WPA consults, manages, and provides input into other Department surveys with a human capital focus.
The Five-Year Workforce Plan provides a framework to address HR management challenges and highlights achievements in recruitment, hiring, staffing, and training of both FS and CS employees. WPA also has a key role in Congressional and OPM reporting such as the foreign language proficiency report, the triennial language review, and ad hoc data analysis and special studies.
CCP is responsible for corporate level classification and compensation policy. The Classification Policy team develops and implements FS position classification criteria, skill code definitions, and serves as the sole authority to classify all FS positions in the Department. This team also administers the Department’s position classification appeals program and represents the Department on interagency working groups regarding position classification matters that focus on properly defining and evaluating work performed in the federal sector.
To develop FS position classification criteria, the Classification Policy team conducts occupational studies. The implementation of these criteria results in the establishment of the FS position base across the full spectrum of grade levels, and impacts the assignments, promotion, and overall workforce planning processes.
The Compensation Policy team provides authoritative pay policy guidance to other foreign affairs agencies, senior leaders, and HR professionals across the Department, and a global workforce of more than 25,000 employees. In coordination with OPM and the Office of the Legal Advisor, the team proposes, reviews, and implements legislative priorities and authorities to ensure Department employees are properly compensated. This team is also responsible for producing the Department’s highly anticipated pay schedules; managing the Department’s pay-for-performance system for senior executive service and senior FS employees; and premium pay and pay cap policies.
Recently, CCP has devoted more time and resources to reviewing and implementing requests to authorize recruitment and retention incentives. These incentives are an important tool for the Department to compete with other federal agencies and the private sector to recruit and retain the best talent.
OAS is responsible for organizational design and development within the Department. OAS produces reorganization packages and organizational assessments. Sometimes reorganization packages are generated because of an organizational assessment. Regardless of how a package comes about, when a bureau desires to change their structure by realigning functions or creating, abolishing, or merging structures, they must consult with OAS which advises them through the reorganization process and signs off on all related documentation. OAS maintains and advises its customers according to the policies and principles outlined in the 1 FAM 014: Organizational Control, Policies, and Functional Statements. This policy ensures that layering is kept to a minimum, spans of control are healthy and rational, functions are aligned properly to avoid duplication and to effectively meet mission objectives, and structures are compliant with staffing level requirements.
OAS may take on organizational assessments, through a mandate from the Office of the Inspector General, at the request of an independent office or bureau, or as a result of a congressional mandate. OAS approaches organizational assessments using four main touch points that all relate to the mission, vision, and strategy of an organization: the organizational structure; workforce and workload; process; and customer focus. Based on the needs of the organization, the focus of an assessment ranges from a narrow examination of one touch point to a balanced assessment of all four equally.
In sum, OAS functions as the Department’s internal organizational consultant. The team works with Department leaders to create structures that will thrive while being accountable and responsible with resources that are funded with taxpayer dollars.
Even with their distinct roles and focal points, the divisions and teams of OTA work together to provide the Department with strong and reliable workforce data, statistics, and analyses. The newly imagined OTA continues the legacy that RMA built over the past 34 years and will continue to evolve professionally, and creatively, to meet the ever-changing demands that come with managing a global and dynamic diplomatic workforce.
Anisha Anderson is a senior member of the Organizational Analysis Staff in the Office of Organization and Talent Analytics (OTA). Jeffrey D. Miller is the director of OTA.