BOEM: dedicated to diversity, inclusion and work-life balance
This entity works for the good of offshore national resources, but it’s also focused on the good of its staff. Progressive techies who can be leaders are valued
Part of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) uses a science-based approach to overseeing offshore conventional and renewable energy and marine mineral resources. It promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development. BOEM is headquartered in Washington, DC, with regional offices in New Orleans, LA, Camarillo, CA, and Anchorage, AK.
“Many of our employees work in engineering or information technology,” says Patricia Jones, program support specialist in the resource evaluation division. “Others apply these areas of expertise to less traditional scientific careers.”
Skills the bureau seeks
Geologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers, geographers, biologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, environmental and physical scientists are just a few of the disciplines the bureau looks for. Many scientists have studied in multidisciplinary programs.
“Good communications skills, the ability to work independently and as part of a team, an ability to use software appropriate to one’s discipline, and staying abreast of the latest research are all important attributes for job candidates,” Jones says.
Links to BOEM jobs
“There are many pathways to federal service,” Jones notes. She suggests that job hopefuls review the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidelines for federal position classifications and qualifications at www.opm.gov, which may differ from the private sector.
“For example, a new graduate might qualify for a job as a hydrologist for a private company, but might not meet that requirement for the federal government. But they might meet the requirement for geologist, physical scientist, oceanographer or engineer,” she explains.
Because 27 percent of BOEM’s current employees are eligible to retire in the next several years, the organization expects hiring to increase, Jones says. Entry-level and experienced employees will be needed.
Some new employees start in BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program, which sponsors research contracts, cooperative agreements and interagency agreements that can result in research publications and presentations.
“Other potential employees may have been involved in graduate research related to contracts and agreements sponsored by BOEM,” Jones says. “BOEM hires student workers or interns through these programs, and many of these students then become fulltime BOEM employees through the usual application process.”
On the USAJobs.gov site, a link for students and recent grads explains the federal Pathways program and its options for undergraduate internships, the recent graduates program, and the Presidential Management Fellows program for graduates with advanced degrees.
“The bureau also employs professionals who have postdoctoral fellowships with the National Research Council or who have held research positions in other agencies,” says Jones.
Diversity, inclusion and change efforts
All BOEM employees participate in Equal Employment Opportunity, diversity and ethics training. BOEM has an EEO and diversity office, as well as a voluntary special emphasis committee of employees. The committee sponsors training events and programs throughout the year. One recent effort was a multicultural day program that included guest speakers and displays of cultural items, says Jones.
BOEM participates in the Diversity Change Agent program, a DOI initiative. “The DOI established the program to help manage diversity and promote inclusion,” Jones explains. Becoming a change agent is voluntary and requires the completion of a one-week certification training. “The agents try to improve inclusiveness on a grassroots level during their everyday encounters, and bring in additional training, sponsor events, and support efforts of local administrators and national initiatives.”
The program is currently implementing a DOI-wide dignity and respect campaign, says Jones. “The premise behind the campaign is that you cannot have diversity without inclusion, and you do not have inclusion if you are not treating individuals with both dignity and respect.”
Professional development and a flexible work environment
To help employees maintain a work-life balance, BOEM offers flexible time options, including a compressed schedule where individuals can work extra hours and have a day off every two weeks.
“We allow teleworking for many positions and offer leave donation programs,” Jones adds. “We also have an employee assistance program that helps individuals find mental health and addiction treatment, childcare or eldercare services and financial counseling.”
BOEM has a student loan repayment program in which employees can apply for up to $10,000 toward student loan repayment each fiscal year. Professional development training and refresher courses are available to all employees subject to supervisor approval and fund availability. Employees are encouraged to attend professional meetings and give scientific research presentations.
BOEM participates in federal initiatives such as fitness programs and carpooling/van programs. The organization also offers a chapter of Toastmasters and, at some facilities, an onsite nurse.
Mentoring and leadership
“BOEM encourages employees to become leaders,” Jones says. “The Diversity Change Agent program is working to establish a formal mentoring program, and local offices have already established less-formal orientation and mentoring programs. Many employees take leadership courses or become involved with federal leadership programs.”
An internal leadership program was just initiated at BOEM, Jones says. The first class was for supervisors, but the program plans to expand to all employees in the near future.
Outreach to the community
“We have been working since the creation of BOEM to make it easy for employees to engage in community outreach activities,” Jones reports. “Our goal is to make the community familiar with the types of science BOEM engages in.”
||Oversees offshore energy
and marine mineral resources