After being nominated by President George W. Bush, the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Kay Coles James to be Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on July 11, 2001. Director Kay Coles James is an advocate for Federal employees and leader of a dynamic agency with over 3,600 employees across the country, an annual budget in excess of 261 million dollars and trust funds that annually exceed 29 billion dollars in appropriations.
As President Bush’s principal advisor in matters of personnel administration for the 1.8 million members of the Federal civil service, OPM, under Director Kay Coles James‘ leadership, manages financial programs and workforces that are larger than many Fortune 500 companies! In fact, if OPM were in the private-sector, it would rank as the largest Fortune 500 company in terms of assets.
Director Kay Coles James oversees the stewardship of over $650 billion in Federal retirement, health, life and long term care insurance assets and oversees the Federal HSA program – the largest trust fund in the world.
Kay Coles James played an instrumental role in designing the process and system through which nearly 170,000 employees from 22 different agencies, each with different cultures and human resources services and represented by 17 separate labor unions, merged into the new Department of Homeland Security – one of the largest personnel mergers in history.
She was also a central official in supporting and implementing the legislation that led to human resource flexibilities at the Department of Defense – providing the President and Secretary of Defense greater flexibility to manage 700,000 Defense employees in the performance of their duties to support America’s men and women in uniform.
Kay Coles James currently serves as the Chair of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP) Principals. The JFMIP is a joint and cooperative undertaking of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the General Accounting Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Personnel Management working in cooperation with each other and other agencies to improve financial management practices in government.
Kay Coles James is chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCO), a group comprised of the selected officers from cabinet departments and other agencies. She is also a member of the President’s Management Council and Chair of the Council’s Subcommittee for Human Capital / Workforce Management. Kay Coles James has also been appointed by the President to serve on the White House Fellows Commission.
Prior to coming to OPM she served as a leader and manager in Government on the Federal, state, and local levels and in private, non-profit, and academic settings. She most recently served as a Senior Fellow and Director of The Citizenship Project at the Heritage Foundation. Prior to joining Heritage, Kay Coles James served as Dean of the School of Government at Regent University and as Chair of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Resources for former Virginia Governor George Allen where she designed and implemented Virginia’s landmark welfare reform initiative.
A graduate of Hampton University, Kay Coles James is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, most recently the Doctor of Laws Degree from Pepperdine University. She is also the recipient of several awards and special recognitions, including the University of Virginia’s Publius Award for Public Service. Kay Coles James is a frequent commentator and lecturer and has appeared as a guest on every network morning show, several national news and talk programs, and her editorials have been featured in newspapers across the country. In addition, She is the author of three books: her award winning 1993 autobiography Never Forget; Transforming America: From the Inside Out (1995); and a third book on the subject of marriage (2001).
Most importantly, Kay Coles James is the wife of Charles James, Sr. and the proud mother of three grown children, and a new grandchild.