The long-stalled nominations to fill the top two positions at OPM are set to advance this week with a planned vote in a Senate committee on Jeff Tien Han Pon to become director and Michael Rigas to become deputy director.
Pon is a former official at OPM who has held numerous other HR leadership positions inside and outside government while Rigas, currently with the Massachusetts state government, has been with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the GSA.
The OPM director position has been filled on only an acting basis since mid-2015 when the then-director resigned in the wake of the hacking of federal employee personnel files and background investigation files. The deputy director position has been vacant since 2011. Nominations for both have been held up by disputes over OPM’s lack of responsiveness to requests from Congress for information on how it applied a provision of the Affordable Care Act to members of Congress and their personal staffs.
Approval by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee could clear the way for approval by the full Senate shortly afterward.
The committee also is set to approve HR-2229, to permanently allow appeals of MSPB decisions in whistleblower retaliation cases to go to regional circuit courts rather than only to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That bill, which already has passed the House, would reinstate authority under a pilot program that recently expired. The Federal Circuit over the years has issued a number of decisions restricting whistleblower protections, some of which have been overturned by laws enacted afterward.