Patrick McFarland, OPM's inspector general, will get a funding boost under bipartisan legislation. (Gannett Government Media Corp.)
Patrick McFarland, inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management, is seen here at a Feb. 11 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on changing the security clearance process in light of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. (Mike Morones/Staff) / Mike Morones
The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general will get a big funding boost for oversight of OPM’s $2 billion revolving fund under a bipartisan bill signed this week by President Obama.
The measure, sponsored by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., will let the inspector general tap the fund for expenses incurred in auditing and investigating programs that it encompasses. OPM uses the revolving fund to provide services to other agencies in return for reimbursement. Among those activities are security clearance background investigations and various personnel management programs.
The revolving fund makes up about 90 percent of OPM’s budget; employees working on fund activities comprise almost two-thirds of the agency’s workforce, Inspector General Patrick McFarland testified last year at a congressional hearing.
But while the fund has grown ten-fold since the late 1990s, the IG’s office had only $3 million to monitor it, McFarland said. Various risk factors — including a reliance on contractors to carry out revolving fund programs — present “an urgent need for an immediate and strong infusion of oversight,” he said in prepared testimony.
At the same hearing, OPM’s Chief Operating Officer Chuck Grimes endorsed the need for oversight to ensure the fund’s integrity. Under the bill signed Wednesday, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, McFarland’s office may use no more than .33 percent of the fund’s annual budget, a ratio that would currently equate to about $6.6 million. He must also submit a yearly spending request and detail what his office is doing with the money.
The added oversight of those programs “will increase taxpayers’ confidence that their government is operating efficiently and effectively,” a spokeswoman said in an email.