ONC’s Operational Service Division: The team of “Yes, we can do that!”

Keviar Warner | April 27, 2023

As the operational services division (OSD) director, Keviar Warner is responsible for overseeing a very diverse group of operational program specialists. Her team excels at providing exceptional customer service to ONC’s program offices and internal and external stakeholders.

Tell us about some of the projects/initiatives that you lead.

As a team OSD’s most important initiatives relate to programs that cut across ONC. Team responsibilities include, but are not limited to, new staff arrival/departure on/offboarding; travel and purchase card support services; IT support; maintenance of ONC space and facilities; and provision of staff safety and physical security.

What led you to your career here at ONC?

Although I began my career in the federal government and changed course for a career in the private sector for many years, I ultimately returned to government service at ONC. I made a personal decision to transition to a life of public service after hearing a series of speeches by Barack Obama, the first African American president.  During those addresses, President Obama underscored the importance of a life of civic and public service.

In 2010, I joined ONC as a government contractor as the executive assistant to ONC’s deputy national coordinator and transitioned to the executive assistant to ONC’s national coordinator.  I also served as a procurement liaison with the procurement and grants division. Subsequently, based on the totality of my public and private sector experience, I applied for a permanent position as OSD director.  It was my firm belief that as a federal employee I would further contribute to ONC’s goal of advancing health and healthcare for all anywhere, anytime.  I have been with ONC for the past 13 years and have no regrets converting to a life of civil service.

What are some skills or strengths that you contribute to your work at ONC?

My private sector experience equipped me with many areas of expertise. I believe the most important qualities I bring to ONC are those of proactiveness, patience, and a unique problem-solving ability. My many years of experience as the OSD director taught me that when responding to an emergent or crucial request, the team’s response must be prompt, based on current and accurate information, and adequately measured in relation to the situation.  A quick response without due diligence and one based on hasty or knee-jerk decisions helps no one.

What is something you’ve accomplished at ONC that you’re most proud of, and why?

During my tenure with ONC, my team’s most unprecedented accomplishment was their situational response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Within a few weeks in early 2020, my team seamlessly transitioned over 180 ONC federal and contracted staff from a 100 percent onsite workforce to a maximum virtual work presence. My team took on this herculean effort with enthusiasm, dedication, hard work, long hours, and efficiency.  They made sure ONC staff had access to needed government-issued remote IT equipment; implemented advanced protocols for technical assistance, including managing IT application access and updates; and upgraded the ONC IT support ticketing system to ensure shorter response times.

My team’s ability to quickly respond to a once in a lifetime situation and to ensure work efforts to advance ONC’s core mission of securing health IT anywhere, anytime to improve health and healthcare for the American public were not interrupted.  This effort is one of the proudest moments of my ONC career.

What would you say is the best or most interesting part of working for ONC?

The best part of working for ONC and what inspires me to stay and prosper at ONC is the opportunity to work with, in my opinion, some of the most talented staff in government. ONC senior leadership affords me the ability to express my creativity and institute new ideas, processes, and procedures to make our organization more effective.

How would you characterize ONC’s success?

Throughout my career in the federal and private sector, I have learned two things characterize an organization’s success. The ability to recruit innovative newcomers with ground-breaking ideas and maintain uniquely qualified and talented staff.  ONC’s success over the years reflects its strong commitment to these principles.

Tell us about a project you are currently working on and how it fits into ONC’s mission.

Recently, I introduced a new process improvement initiative to streamline operational service processes, identify procedural gaps, and realign efforts to enhance OSD program and process efficiencies that will positively impact our internal and external customers.  This effort will involve revising OSD documented policies and procedures; conducting follow-up meetings with customers to resolve and implement necessary program and process revisions; and create a Lessons Learned document, detailing implemented changes to inform and educate ONC staff.  Constantly improving OSD program and process efficiencies will positively impact all  the ONC services we provide. OSD’s work creates an operating environment that supports management and technical staff as they work to advance ONC’s mission to secure health information technology and improve health and healthcare for all.

What are the core values of ONC that are important to you?

As I reflect on my time as OSD director, I am reminded of the two most important mottos I ask my team to keep in mind as they deal with the unique trials, tribulations, and challenges they encounter in providing exceptional operational support services – “don’t suffer in silence” and “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.”