Issue Briefs

The Trump administration has said that it many aspects of its agency reorganization plan unveiled a year are underway, mainly provisions that can be carried out without congressional approval. Following are the sections of its status report dealing most directly with portions involving the federal workforce.

REORGANIZE THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM)

To build and sustain the Federal workforce management structure for the 21st Century, the President’s FY 2020 Budget reflects a full merger of OPM into the General Services Administration (GSA). Since June 2018, the Administration has been working with OPM to assess and develop strategies to improve alignment and strategic management of the Federal workforce by strengthening leadership of human capital systems, developing improved human resources processes and capabilities, and enhancing the workforce culture. OPM faces long-standing structural challenges in these mission-critical areas. OPM’s focus on transactional compliance-driven activities is rooted in a fragmented civil service regulatory environment. OPM itself focuses almost exclusively on Title V. A full reorganization of OPM is necessary to ensure that the Federal Government is able to meet the needs of today’s modern workforce.

The Administration has transmitted to Congress legislation to authorize a merger. The President’s Budget also included a request for an appropriation to cover transition costs. In the coming months, the Administration will work with Congress to stress the need for reform. Should Congress enact legislation to authorize a merger, the reorganization could begin in FY 2020. In the meantime, OPM is working under existing authorities to improve operations.

The President’s Budget proposal reflects the following end-state for OPM’s existing services:

• The transfer of all OPM transactional services (e.g., those within Human Resources Solutions, Retirement Services, and Healthcare & Insurance) to GSA as a third “Service,” comparable to GSA’s current Public Buildings Service and Federal Acquisition Service;

• The establishment of an Office of Federal Workforce Policy at the Office of Management and Budget to focus on strategic workforce planning; and

• The transfer of OPM’s oversight functions to GSA, including the OPM Office of Inspector General (OIG), which will complement the GSA OIG’s expertise conducting audits, investigations, and evaluations and providing recommendations to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.

 

TRANSFER OF BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS FROM THE OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM) TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD)

The Reform Plan outlined the Administration’s proposal to transfer all background investigation program functions from OPM’s National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to DOD, as required by section 925 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Pub. L. 115-232).

On April 24, 2019, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13869, which transferred responsibility for background investigations from NBIB to DOD pursuant to section 925. The transfer also addressed concerns noted in the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2019 High-Risk Series: “Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas” report. The transition of NBIB to DOD will occur consistent with an agreement set out in June 2019 and is expected to take place by October 2019.

DOD has been working to establish the Personnel Vetting Transformation Office to execute the successful transfer and transformation of NBIB to the DOD Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).

The DCSA will serve as the primary Federal entity for:

• Conducting effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government;

• Managing DOD’s National Industrial Security Program; and

• Establishing Insider Threat program requirements.

 

SOLVE THE FEDERAL CYBERSECURITY WORKFORCE SHORTAGE

On May 2, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order (EO) 13870, “American’s Cybersecurity Workforce,” to grow the cybersecurity capability of the U.S. Government, increase integration of the Federal cybersecurity workforce, and strengthen the skills of Federal information technology and cybersecurity practitioners. The Federal Government struggles to recruit and retain cybersecurity professionals because of a shortage of talent, along with growing demand for these employees across the public and private sectors. The Administration is standardizing its approach to Federal cybersecurity personnel by ensuring Government-wide visibility into talent gaps, as well as finding unified solutions to fill those gaps in a timely and prioritized manner.

In early 2019, the Administration established the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy, which offers Federal employees the opportunity for hands-on training in cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing fields in the country. This reskilling effort is part of the Administration’s commitment to developing a Federal workforce of the 21st Century. The inaugural Academy cohort, consisting of 50 Federal employees, began in April 2019.

The Administration is also working to establish a cybersecurity track within the President’s Management Council interagency rotation program to boost mobility among the cyber workforce and to expand their cybersecurity expertise. President Trump stated on May 2, 2019, “America built the internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations.”

Additionally, the Office of Personnel Management issued a final rule implementing EO 13833, “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Agency Chief Information Officers.” The final rule, which became effective May 3, 2019, delegates to agency Chief Information Officers the authority necessary to determine whether there is a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need for information technology positions. This authority will streamline the hiring process for positions critical to Federal cybersecurity.