Bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have urged President Trump to move quickly to nominate an OPM director, saying “this is an agency with critical daily functions, and it needs strong leadership.”
“OPM oversees essential human resources functions for 2.7 million federal employees, including United States Postal Service personnel; administers retirement benefits for 2.6 million federal annuitants, spouses, and survivors; and helps to secure the highly sensitive personnel information and background data of federal employees and contractors,” said the letter signed by the chairmen and ranking Democrats on the full committee and its subcommittees that focus on the federal workforce.
“It is imperative for this agency to have in place a director that is fully accountable, one who can provide the expertise, direction and management necessary,” the letter adds.
In addition to the tasks the letter mentions, an immediate task facing OPM is to coordinate with OMB on a long-run plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce by attrition, a plan due in late April per Trump’s hiring freeze memo.
President Obama didn’t name his first OPM director until early March 2009 and President George W. Bush didn’t name his until late April 2001. The position is subject to Senate confirmation, which typically takes several months even if there is little or no controversy over the choice.
OPM has not had a confirmed director since Katherine Archuleta resigned in mid-2015 in the wake of the background investigation and personnel records database breaches. Beth Cobert served out the remainder of the Obama administration on an acting basis, never confirmed because of a dispute over OPM’s interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on members of Congress. Currently the acting director is the chief management officer, Kathleen McGettigan.