Fedweek

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings for this week on the Trump administration’s proposal to break off OPM’s operating divisions and turn the agency into a policy entity within the Executive Office of the President.

Under the reorganization plan, responsibility for background investigations for all federal employees would move to DoD, while OPM’s retirement, insurance and HR services functions would move to GSA, which would be renamed the Government Services Agency.

However, many unanswered questions remain, including whether OPM would retain a focus on general management of the federal workforce or whether—as federal employee unions believe—it would focus on making sure that federal employees carry out the White House’s priorities.

The AFGE union in a recent statement submitted to the committee said that “moving OPM policy functions into the Executive Office of the President is direct politicization of personnel policy” and “will undermine” the merit system. The NTEU union similarly said in a statement that “OPM’s independent authority over the career civil service-and employing agency human resources’ actions and decisions-must be maintained for our government not to revert to the spoils system.” And the NARFE organization has expressed concern that “federal jobs could depend more on allegiance to the President or political party than to the Constitution and laws enacted by Congress.”

The Senior Executives Association however, said at the time of the original announcement that the change would “elevate” OPM and let it concentrate on the “core functions of providing human capital policy and oversight solve many problems that have for nearly two decades plagued federal human capital processes and practices.”