The nominees to lead OPM and GSA committed to continued efforts on several management-related issues at their confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
OPM director nominee Jeff Pon–a former official there who has held numerous other HR leadership positions elsewhere inside and outside government–was pressed to speed up the processing of job applications, retirement applications and security clearance applications, and to continue to focus on improving the agency’s cybersecurity and promoting diversity in the overall workforce, especially in the upper ranks.
Questioning of GSA administrator nominee Emily Murphy–currently a senior adviser there who previously was its chief acquisition officer and who has acquisition-related experience on Capitol Hill and in the private sector–meanwhile focused mainly on the agency’s efforts to dispose of unneeded buildings and end on no longer needed office space.
Also appearing at the hearing was Michael Rigas–currently with the Massachusetts state government and formerly an official with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the GSA–who has been nominated to be OPM deputy director.
All three could get the committee’s approval as early as this week, although another long-running issue, over how OPM interpreted a section of the Affordable Care Act relating to members of Congress and their personal staff, could threaten to hold up Pon’s nomination and potentially that of Rigas, as well. OPM has not had a confirmed director since mid-2015 nor a confirmed deputy director since 2011, partly due to Republican senators holding up votes on grounds that OPM has not been responsive to their requests for information about that decision.
Meanwhile, the Senate has confirmed Henry Kerner to head the Office of Special Counsel. He is a former investigator for Capitol Hill Republicans and official with the Cause of Action advocacy group.