The DoD budget signed by President Trump that bars any further moves to break up OPM pending a detailed study of the potential impact may have ended what has been a major initiative of his administration since mid-2018.
The bill bars “transferring, transitioning, merging, or consolidating any functions, responsibilities, information technology systems, staff, resources, or records” to GSA or OMB pending an outside study of “the full panoply of OPM missions and functions; the challenges associated with the office’s execution of same; and options and recommended courses of action for addressing those challenges.” After that, OPM would have to analyze the report and could make any recommendations for needed changes in law to Congress.
Given the length of time that such a process likely would consume and the reaction from Capitol Hill to the breakup idea—opposition from Democrats and only mild support from Republicans—there have been reports that the administration will now drop it completely.
However, there has been no formal announcement to that effect from the administration, which looked for ways to transfer some smaller operations of OPM to GSA even amid the dispute that led to enactment of that language. The next signal may not come until the White House’s next budget proposal, which typically is released each February.
The already-completed transfer of background investigations from OPM to DoD will not be affected in any case.