The OPM inspector general has called into question the eligibility of acting OPM director Beth Cobert to fill that position while her nomination to formally take the job is pending before the Senate, raising the prospect that a court could overturn any actions she had taken since last November and until she is confirmed. That was based on the IG’s reading of a recent appeals court decision involving a law setting restrictions on having nominees for positions fill them on an acting basis while also awaiting confirmation; Cobert has been acting director since last July and was formally nominated in November. Decisions issued under her name in that time include allowing agencies to make more use of recruitment, relocation and retention allowances under certain circumstances; policies regarding eligibility of certain temporary land management agency employees to compete for permanent jobs; restrictions on awards for political appointees; instructions on conducting performance evaluations; and guidance on SES rotational and onboarding programs. The impact would be uncertain on other initiatives in which Cobert was involved, although not necessarily as the lead official. This could include the initiative to create a new semi-independent entity within the agency to perform background checks while moving the IT aspects to DoD. That is to be the focus of a House hearing tomorrow (February 25).
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