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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal 6: Improve ASPR Adaptability and Resilience by Maximizing Workforce Potential, Developing Leadership, and Encouraging a Continuous Learning Culture

ASPR relies on a world-class workforce made up of people deeply committed to preparing the nation to respond to and recover from public health and medical emergencies and disasters. All ASPR employees must develop together an organizational culture that invests in all staff members, attracts a talented and diverse workforce, and fosters high morale. In line with the national objective on ensuring data-driven approaches and the best available science guide decisions and actions, policies and processes at ASPR will be guided by evaluation, performance measurement, and continuous quality improvement principles. An integrated strategic approach to how ASPR does business will allow priorities to drive resource planning and will help tell the preparedness story to partners and the public. Taken together, the strategies under this goal will foster effective operations and an engaged workforce, giving the organization a flexible, proactive posture in meeting its mission to lead the nation in preparing, responding, and recovering.  


  • Become “one ASPR”—create a cohesive organization and communicate with one voice to internal and external partners. Proposed activities:
    • Enhance communications and coordination among ASPR employees in all programs, offices, and geographic locations [COO];
    • Promote enhanced geographic connectedness through increased communication and technology initiatives [COO];
    • Develop and implement a proactive and strategic communications approach to promote ASPR’s programs, initiatives, challenges, and accomplishments [COO];
    • Work with partners to expand message content and make national health security messages (covering topics such as preparedness, response, and recovery) available in multiple formats and languages to stakeholders [OPP].
    • Develop communication tools that tell the ASPR story, including “We Are ASPR” video vignettes and segments [COO];
    • Develop “mission maps” to demonstrate how each function is connected to the success of the ASPR mission [COO, all parts of ASPR].
Outcome: A singularity of vision and purpose.
  • Cultivate an engaged, interactive, and collaborative workforce. Proposed activities:
    • Encourage a positive and supportive work environment through frequent “town hall” meetings and open communication channels that provide opportunities for ASPR employees to collaborate, brainstorm, and share ideas to make ASPR a better organization [COO];
    • Initiate matrix teams with office leadership and the Organizational Development Team to develop customized workforce engagement improvement action plans, and track and report results to ASPR [COO];
    • Initiate a workforce analysis to assess organizational structure and workforce requirements based on mission objectives [COO];
    • Design and implement a cross-training program to add capacity during high-demand efforts and encourage professional development [COO].
Outcome: Staff feels empowered and takes ownership for the success of the entire organization.
  • Encourage ideation and diversity of thought through information sharing and knowledge management. Proposed activities:
    • Maximize use of the online ASPR portal, offering a common virtual space for collaboration [COO];
    • Develop an annual planning calendar to improve internal organization for better external engagement [COO];
    • Advertise and ensure supervisor and peer encouragement of participation in ASPR educational presentations like seminars and brown bags, strategic planning/workforce input sessions, and work toward a culture change to value these things as important [COO];
    • Encourage routine use of technologies that permit distance collaboration (e.g. video conferencing, video chat, and real time document development) [COO, all parts of ASPR];
    • Utilize video and multimedia throughout O’Neill to share programmatic information ASPR-wide [COO];
    • Encourage innovation, cooperation, and sharing of ideas across ASPR and within the scientific, policy, programmatic, and operations communities [COO];
    • Implement approaches to promote in-process organizational improvement activities across our organization [COO, all parts of ASPR].
    • Provide an online ideation collaboration area for ASPR employees, informational blogs and articles about ideation and innovation, and prize incentive resources using the ASPR Idea Foundry on the ASPR Portal [COO, all parts of ASPR];
    • Utilize regular information sharing to communicate the budget cycle and associated deadlines, organizational budget priorities, level of funds, major contract acquisition strategies, and new developments impacting budget [OFPA & AMCG].
Outcome: Good ideas come from everywhere and everyone in ASPR.
  • Expand and improve ASPR reward and recognition programs. Proposed activities:
    • Integrate design elements in the O’Neill Office building to support and communicate ASPR values and a collaborative, connected organization [COO];
    • Develop a quarterly recognition newsletter to highlight ASPR staff achievements [COO];
    • Develop diverse approaches to communicate and promote ASPR values [COO];
    • Incorporate ASPR values into employees’ performance plans [COO];
    • Design, implement, and maintain a centralized ASPR staff recognition program [COO];
    • Develop a proposal for a centralized ASPR staff recognition program [COO];
    • Hold a Public Health Service (PHS) promotion ceremony no less than annually (resource dependent) [COO].
Outcome:  ASPR is a recognition-rich culture where staff accomplishments are shared across the organization.
  • Build a highly effective and resilient organization by recruiting, acquiring, and developing a high-performing, top quality workforce. Proposed activities:
    • Establish a Human Capital Board with the responsibility of developing a Human Capital Strategic Plan, along with an Implementation Plan [COO];
    • Develop a curriculum of in-house training, including opportunities for cross-office functional training and pre-supervisor training [COO];
    • Develop training and a virtual library for best recruitment practices [COO];
    • Develop and implement strategic pre-recruitment processes [COO];
    • Expand current training opportunities to better promote leadership and organizational knowledge of key functions and duties [COO];
    • Establish and maintain a telework task force which reports directly to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response (PDASPR) to maximize synergies in implementation [COO];
    • Develop a portal site that provides guidance and options for staff education and training, as well as career advancement [COO];
    • Develop guidelines and tools to foster implementation of an ASPR mentoring program [COO];
    • Review existing career training and advancement opportunities within each division to identify best-practices, and then model ASPR-wide [COO].
Outcome:  A workforce that is high-functioning, sustainable, and adaptable.
  • Improve the integration of administrative practices, resource management, performance measurement, and quality improvement. Proposed activities:
    • Conduct a requirement analysis of core administrative policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and assess gaps in policies and SOPs including a review of cross-office implementation [COO, all parts of ASPR];
    • Develop processes to mitigate the circumstances and consequences associated with late invoice payments [AMCG, OFPA];
    • Develop new and revised administrative policies and SOPs based on gaps in requirements, and implement periodic testing practices to ensure consistent application across ASPR [COO];
    • Utilize the Information Technology Investment Review Board (ITIRB) to develop an assessment of synergy and savings opportunities to improve ASPR-wide information technology policy, strategy, and investment decisions [COO];
    • Promote staff engagement to implement quality improvement methods [COO];
    • Engage with outside partners, both in the public and private sector, to establish a quality improvement culture within ASPR [COO, all parts of ASPR];
    • Apply QI principles to ASPR’s internal administrative functions to ensure these functions continuously improve in effectiveness and efficiency [COO, all parts of ASPR];
    • ASPR Programs will be responsible for program integrity and internal control risk mitigation. Program risk-owners will be responsible for effectively responding to and communicating annually identified risks on ASPR’s Statement of Assurances and Program Integrity progress reports to the ASPR [OFPA];
    • Lead the Secretary’s Program Integrity initiative for ASPR by applying the risk assessment lifecycle in partnership with selected programs. Quantifiable metrics that demonstrate risk reduction will be used to determine the effectiveness of each risk response plan [OFPA];
    • Improve the integration of strategic planning, performance measurement, and program integrity. Risk assessment data will be used to create process improvements and provide ASPR leadership with value-added data analysis, analytics, and performance metrics to inform decisions. A variety of analytical methodologies—to include but not limited to lean six sigma—will be applied [OFPA];
    • Implement mandatory annual trainings in ethics, risk management, conflict of interest, and appropriations law [COO];
    • Manage the ASPR Strategic Plan implementation process including action planning, regular reporting and reviews with leadership, tracking course correction decisions, and updating the strategic plan and action plans periodically [OPP];
    • Issue guidance (including publicizing department-wide guidance) and implement policies as applicable regarding printing standards and reducing IT energy usage [COO];
    • Hold an ASPR-wide contest to generate ideas for actions to improve organization success through management and administration [COO].
Outcome: A forward looking, metric driven, and systematic decision making framework that is transparent and accountable.
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  • This page last reviewed: February 18, 2014