The administration’s budget plan assumes that the proposal to break up OPM will become reality in the budget year that starts October 1, despite congressional opposition that resulted in a late-2019 law ordering a delay that likely would last beyond this year.
That law barred any further moves to split up OPM pending a comprehensive study of its missions and functions, the challenges it faces and options for addressing those challenges.
The timing was not defined but such a wide-ranging study likely would consume many months. Afterward, the OPM would have six months to present detailed views on the report, and no reorganization could occur for at least 180 days after that and further would be subject to the enactment of any legislation required.
In the wake of that language—widely interpreted as shelving the plan in a face-saving way—there had been reports that the White House would abandon the idea and not even go through with the formality of the report.
However, the budget proposal states that the report will be done. The general budget shows virtually all of OPM’s employees being shifted to the GSA and the detailed descriptions of both agencies were presented in one joint document.
That “reflects the end-state organizational structure and resources necessary to achieve this reorganization of OPM, contingent upon the enactment of authorizing legislation,” that document says.
Under the reorganization plan, unveiled in mid-2018, OPM’s security clearance background investigations division already has been shifted to DoD.
The administration further wants the GSA to take over OPM’s divisions overseeing benefits programs and providing HR services to other agencies, while OPM’s policy-making functions would shift to a new sub-office of OMB.
However, federal employee organizations and Democrats in Congress have opposed those steps.
They have raised concerns about potential politicization of the federal workforce with policy decisions being made by an arm of the White House, run by non-confirmed political appointees, and have questioned combining agencies with different functions. Congressional Republicans meanwhile have shown little enthusiasm.