Chris Lu (above) is the Deputy Secretary of Labor
As America becomes more diverse, the federal workforce and its leadership should reflect the public we serve. By 2020, almost one out of every five (19.5%) Americans will be of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent. Yet AAPIs currently account for only 5.6% of the total federal workforce and only 4.4% of the Senior Executive Service (SES), the highest managerial level in the federal government.
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been collaborating with federal agencies, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations to increase AAPI representation in the federal government at all levels, strengthening the pipeline for AAPIs to enter and advance up the ranks.
To increase AAPIs in federal service, the Initiative is raising student awareness of federal internship opportunities. Students at the undergraduate level and higher can apply to participate in internships at the Initiative and around the federal government. The Pathways programs offer a route to federal internships for students from the high school to the post-graduate level, and to federal careers for recent graduates.
The Initiative works with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) to launch the FAPAC Challenge Team Program. Launched at the White House Initiative Federal Employee Conference on July 12, 2013, the FAPAC Challenge Teams is an innovative project-oriented, experiential training-based program targeted at developing skills for emerging federal employee leaders while working to solve the dilemmas facing the federal government when addressing the needs of AAPI federal employees and communities.
Senior Executive Service
The Initiative has partnered with the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Asian American Government Executive Network (AAGEN) to support the creation of AAGEN’s Senior Executive Service Development Program. The program identifies and aids applicants in preparation for the SES selection process through intensive training, education, and mentoring. This program bolsters the career ladder for AAPIs in government and addresses a key AAPI employment gap. The program is now in its third year.
The website USAJOBS.gov is the federal government’s one-stop shop for federal jobs and employment information. Users can search for vacancies by a variety of criteria, such as agency or salary range, and can register for an account to build a resume and submit applications. Please note that the vast majority of federal positions are only open to those with United States citizenship.
USAJOBS.gov provides a number of resources for those seeking federal employment, including answers to frequently-asked questions, information for individuals with disabilities, and other materials valuable to federal job seekers, such as: eligibility criteria, types of employment, and a glossary of key terms.
For veterans, transitioning service members, and their families, the website FedsHireVets.gov provides information specific to this segment of the community. Veterans may be eligible for veterans’ preference in the appointment process, and may be appointed under specific hiring authorities.
Federal Advisory Committees
Another way to get involved in the federal government is to become a member of a federal advisory committee. Federal agencies sponsor advisory committees in order to seek assistance from the nation’s citizens on a wide variety of issues. Participation in an advisory committee is a way for the AAPI community to provide guidance and input regarding subjects that may later inform policies and programs. Members of advisory committees generally have expertise and professional skills related to the program responsibilities of the agencies sponsoring the committee.
Vacancies on advisory committees are advertised in the Federal Register (tip: search using the term “nomination”). Click here for selected current and past examples of notifications requesting nominations for advisory committees. The General Services Administration also maintains a database of all federal advisory committees.