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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

About Employment at EPA Pacific Southwest

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Mullins Award

Background

This award was established in 1982 in memory of Robert J. Mullins who demonstrated in his career with EPA that one can achieve career goals by showing initiative, a positive attitude, and a willingness to work hard for program mission accomplishments.

Purpose

The Robert J. Mullins Memorial Award will provide scholarship assistance to EPA Region 9 employees in pursuit of career objectives that benefit EPA's mission, whether in an administrative or program area.

Type of Award

The award consists of a combination of financial assistance and excused time off (to be used concurrently) to enable the recipient to enhance self-development through academic pursuits. The recipient will be allowed to attend classes offered by an accredited college or university in the San Francisco Bay Area on a part-time basis during work hours to complete up to 30 semester or 45 quarter units. During this time, the recipient will continue to perform his/her duties, adjusting the work schedule to accommodate the class schedule. The award will be effective for a period of two years.

A formal training plan outlining the recipient's academic/work schedule for the period will be prepared with concurrences by the immediate supervisor, Division/Office Director, and Training Officer. The plan, as well as proof of completed training, shall become part of the recipient's official personnel record.

Expenses for tuition and books shall be paid by the Region not to exceed $5,000 (total amount available for award period).

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a permanent full-time EPA Region 9 employee at GS-09, or below with at least one year of continuous EPA Region 9 service; and
  • Not in a career ladder with promotional potential to a GS-11 grade level; and
  • Does not possess a bachelor's degree.
  • Has not been a Mullins Award recipient before.

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Leadership Development Program

Program Description and Objectives

Region 9's Leadership Development Program is a year-long program for eligible non-supervisory employees in grades GS-11-14, who have demonstrated leadership potential. The program offers a variety of training and developmental opportunities through both formal training sessions and implementation of a personal development plan. The program stimulates the personal and professional growth of participants while increasing their organizational effectiveness and leadership skills.

The objectives of the Region 9 Leadership Development Program (LDP) are:

  • to expose participants to and provide them insight about leadership in action;
  • to enhance and develop program participants' leadership abilities through training and developmental experiences;
  • to provide participants with opportunities to expand their professional experiences and organizational knowledge; and
  • to develop a cadre of employees who model effective leadership.

Program/Curriculum design

  • Three weeks formal training plus supplemental meetings
  • Mobility Assignment: minimum 3 month assignment out of current position to be completed within 18 months
  • Focus Group Project
  • Required Reading (5 books)
  • Mentoring program participation
  • Executive Interviews (2)
  • Shadow Assignments (2 - 5 days)

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Region 9's Place-Based Program

Background

In May 1997, Region 9 implemented a program for placing employees outside the regional office to live and work within the communities we serve. One of the key elements of this program is developing partnerships with individuals, agencies and other entities in support of our community-based efforts.

Process

Establishment of these positions is guided by our strategic planning priorities and annual allocation of resources. The primary mechanism for place-basing employees involves the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other federal, state, local agencies, non-government organizations, universities, etc, which formally documents space and equipment needs and requirements when the EPA employee co-locates with one of these entities.

Current Status

Currently Region 9 has approximately 15 employees place-based in communities throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. Three employees are located in tribal communities to address the environmental issues affecting tribes and to increase our availability and interaction with tribal leaders.

In 2000, the Human Resources Office conducted an evaluation of the program to determine its effectiveness in improving our ability to protect public health and the environment. We concluded that the Place-Based program allows us to optimize our resources, improve job satisfaction and enhance public health and environmental protection.

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Training and Development Strategy

Program Description and Objectives

The Training and Development Strategy is a multi-year planning document which was designed to reinforce and support the Vision and Values of Region 9, as well as address the training needs articulated in three separate training needs surveys conducted in the Region. Our vision is that "all employees are highly skilled and motivated, creative in seeking solutions, and committed to achieving excellence." The values we aspire to live by in all of our work activities, which guide our program direction, and which we communicate to our internal and external partners, stakeholders, and the public are:

  • high quality team-work with strong, interdependent working relationships;
  • sound science;
  • career development for all employees;
  • self-initiative, risk-taking, and creativity are encouraged and rewarded;
  • decision making is delegated to the lowest possible level;
  • open and honest communication;
  • valuing the diversity of our workforce and fully utilizing everyone's skills;
  • continuous learning;
  • cultivating and maintaining a culture that encourages mutual respect;
  • personal integrity and accountability.

By carefully integrating support for this vision and these values with the data from each of the survey instruments, we tailored a training and development strategy that transcends fiscal years, targets key competency areas, addresses critical employee needs, and maximizes regional training dollars.

We believe this strategy represents a dynamic plan which is flexible enough to address the many faceted needs of our 850 person workforce and the evolving demands of our Agency mission. Working within the structure of this plan, we have designed training courses which address both employee's skill development and career development needs.

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Management and Leadership Development Program

The overall purpose of the Region 9 Management and Leadership Development Program is to prepare supervisors, managers and executives to:

  • Provide the leadership necessary to create and sustain a high performing organization;
  • facilitate positive change to meet future challenges;
  • ensure a seamless transition from one generation of managers to the next.

Specific goals of the Management and Leadership Development Program are to:

  • Acknowledge, support and value management as a distinct profession;
  • provide sufficient developmental opportunities and dedicated resources to fully
  • implement the program and achieve it's purpose of meeting current and future competency needs; and
  • provide a detailed framework for supervisors and managers to use in planning and developing their careers.

Program Elements

1. Provide staff with formal leadership development opportunities, to prepare them for assuming higher level responsibilities.

a. Continue to support the mid-career Leadership Development Program which offers a broad range of developmental activities to staff in the GS 11-13 grades who wish to enhance their leadership skills and prepare themselves for future supervisory positions.

  • Implement the 360 degree feedback program on an annual basis. Participation is mandatory for all supervisors, managers and executives and is optional for staff.

2. Ensure that all new supervisors receive at least 80 hours of training in the core competencies of supervision during the first year of their assignment.

a. All new supervisors are required to complete at least 80 hours of training from the Core Curriculum within the first year of assuming their new assignment. The Core Curriculum includes 40 hours of basic Supervision courses, and specific Human Resources Management and EEO courses, such as Performance Management, Interviewing Skills, Labor Relations, Coaching and Feedback, EEO for Supervisors, and Valuing Diversity.

3. Ensure the Continuing Education of supervisors, managers and executives.

a. Supervisors, managers and executives will be guaranteed at least 40 hours of training each year to maintain their current competency levels, stay abreast of changes in law, rule, regulation and policy, and to begin to develop higher-level competencies, such as Advanced Leadership Skills, Strategic Thinking, Planning and Evaluation, Creating Partnerships, Financial Management, and Internal Controls/Integrity. An Advanced Curriculum will be offered each year to meet this need. Recognizing that we essentially do not have "middle level" managers in the supervisory workforce, our first -line supervisors will be required to develop both first-level and mid-level competencies to be successful in their positions.

b. Each supervisor, manager, and executive will be required to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) annually, preferably at the conclusion of the end-of-year Performance Appraisal feedback discussions in January - March. New supervisors will develop an IDP in consultation with HR within 30 days of assuming their position. IDPs may also be updated, if necessary, by the results of the annual 360 degree evaluation process.

4. Develop higher-level competencies and broaden supervisory employee's experience by promoting the use of developmental opportunities other than formal training.

a. Broaden supervisory and managerial experience and build higher-level competencies such as Developing Business Acumen, Leading Change, Building Coalitions, and External Awareness by encouraging the use of "stretch assignments", special projects, teaching assignments, details to other organizations, both federal and non-federal, and rotational assignments.

5. Track and Evaluate the Management and Leadership Development Program.

a. Establish and maintain a management development tracking system to measure developmental activities and accomplishments of our managerial workforce.

b. Evaluate the effectiveness of all training at meeting our program's goals by maintaining and analyzing evaluations of all individual and group training events. Prepare and submit an annual report on the status of training and development in Region 9 to the RA/DRA and the SMT, highlighting the fiscal year's accomplishments.

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Flexiplace Program

Region 9 pioneered a telecommuting program in 1989 known as the the Flexible Workplace (Flexiplace) program. Flexiplace is an innovative management program which provides employees the opportunity to perform their duties at alternative duty stations (e.g., satellite locations, employee's residences) during an agreed-upon portion of their work week. Flexiplace, also known as flexible workplace, work-at-home, telecommuting and teleworking, refers to paid employment away from the organization's traditional worksite.

Currently Region 9 has 450+ participants in this program. Participation in Flexiplace is voluntary. Generally, any occupation/job involving portable work can be considered for inclusion in the program. It is management's responsibility to decide whether the employee and the position meet the criteria and consider the additional cost to the organization.

The Flexiplace program has been evaluated numerous times and has been assessed to be a major success for both managers and employees.

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