Fedweek

The White House’s budget proposal assumes that a planned breakup of OPM, with most of its parts moving to GSA, will continue moving ahead during the current fiscal year and will be completed in fiscal 2020, which begins October 1.

Under the plan, OPM’s workforce policy and strategy functions would fall under an office of the White House; GSA would operate the retirement and insurance programs and take over training and other employment services OPM now provides to other agencies; and DoD would take over responsibility for conducting background checks for new and renewed security clearances government-wide.

Says a document issued along with the budget: “The current structure of OPM and the federal employment system are archaic and do not reflect important realities of today’s workforce. For example, the Government Accountability Office has had federal human capital on its high-risk list since 2001, and the Congress has acted to exempt an increasing portion of the civilian workforce from the purview of these structures. These realities have reduced OPM’s ability to manage the federal workforce effectively and to address core strategic and policy concerns.”

It says the changes will be accomplished “through a combination of legislative proposals and appropriations to cover GSA’s transition costs.”

Federal employee unions and some members of Congress however have argued that putting OPM’s policy-making role in the White House would lead to politicizing the civil service; they also have challenged the administration’s assertion that at least some of those reorganizations are within its existing powers. A recent spending bill ordered the administration to describe how it believes it could make any of the changes apart from rewriting the Civil Service Reform Act which created OPM as it exists today.