Fedweek

Congress has started hearings that will lay the groundwork for decisions on federal employee policies and the budgets for the central management agencies in the upcoming fiscal year although confirmed leaders still are not in place at those agencies.

The most important of those to agencies, OPM, is still being led on an acting basis, as it has been for all but about 12 months for the last six years. Nominee Kiran Ahuja — who was OPM chief of staff for part of the Obama administration among other roles — was approved by a committee in late April but has not been scheduled for a Senate floor vote.

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Her nomination apparently has gotten caught up in the type of partisan disputes that have stalled, and sometimes stopped, many prior OPM nominees over the last decade. The underlying issues vary each time but abortion policy and diversity training have surfaced repeatedly in this go around.

OMB also is being led on an acting basis by former senior Capitol Hill aide Shalanda Young, who was confirmed to be deputy director for budget. It remains uncertain whether she will be nominated for the director position, which would require her to go through the confirmation process again, as well as begin it for a nominee to replace her as deputy director.

Meanwhile, there has been no hearing on the more recent nomination of federal employment attorney Cathy Harris to become chairwoman of the MSPB, which has lacked a quorum and has been unable to rule on appeals of hearing officer decisions since early 2017.

During that time, Senate Republicans have insisted on filling all three seats at the same time but there has been no word regarding nominations for the two other seats.

However, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing this week for GSA nominee Robin Carnahan, who over 2016-2020 led the state and local government practice at 18F, a tech consultancy inside the agency.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook