The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Dale Cabaniss, who among other civil service-related positions headed the FLRA during the Bush administration, as OPM director, giving that agency a confirmed leader for the first time in nearly exactly a year. The 54-38 vote fell largely along party lines, reflecting union opposition based on her tenure at the FLRA.
OPM has been led on an acting basis by deputy OMB director Margaret Weichert since the resignation of Jeff T.H. Pon—who had served only about six months—reportedly due to disagreements over the White House’s plan to break up OPM. Except for that period, OPM has been led by only acting officials for more than four years, since the resignation of Katherine Archuleta in the wake of the OPM database breaches.
The three-member MSPB governing board meanwhile has been without a quorum since the administration’s first month and thus has been unable to issue decisions on hearing officer decisions in that time; the last remaining member left earlier this year, leaving the agency without anyone on that board for the first time since its creation as part of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Nominees for all three seats have cleared the Senate committee level—two of them early in the year, the third just before the recess—but so far no vote for confirmation by the full Senate has been scheduled.
Also having cleared the committee level is nomination of Catherine Bird for general counsel of the FLRA, a key position in the resolution of the types of bargaining conflicts that have become increasingly common in the last several years. However, she was opposed unanimously by Democrats, following opposition from unions based on her role as a management negotiator at HHS.