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New OPM nominee brings deep civil service background to an age of change

May 24, 2017 (Photo Credit: AP)
The Trump administration’s nominee for director of Office of Personnel Management is no stranger to the federal challenges of managing human capital.

George Nesterczuk previously held multiple stints at the agency, first managing the Senior Executive Service during the Reagan administration and then as a senior adviser during the George W. Bush administration, heading up efforts to develop the Department of Defense’s National Security Personnel System.

Former colleagues say that background will serve him well has he moves to guide OPM through the largest restructuring in the history of the federal government.

“I worked with George in the 1990s when I was on Capitol Hill,” said Robert Shea, a former Office of Management and Budget associate director and current public sector principal at Grant Thornton.

“He knows as much as anyone about the current civil service system, the way federal employees are recruited, retained and paid, and that will be an enormous benefit.”

Nesterczuk served as staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Service in the 1990s, the last time the federal workforce was in a position of upheaval following across-the-board personnel cuts by the Clinton administration.

Shea said that given the overhaul of the executive branch, coupled with an ongoing drain of new talent recruitment, Nesterczuk’s nomination will provide OPM a steady hand in a time of great tumult.

“Human capital is among the — if not the — greatest challenge facing agencies,” he said. “So he’s really well-armed to work with Congress and the agencies on what that reform will look like.

“If you read the guidance coming out of OMB, OPM’s expertise and guidance are badly needed by agencies. So if he can lead the agency to provide that help — I think he is well positioned to do that, if he can get confirmed — that will be a real service.”

Current OMB senior adviser and former OPM Director Linda Springer said that Nesterczuk’s knowledge and expertise of the civil service would be an asset, but his presumptive appointment will be integral to tackling the agency’s ongoing efforts to recruit and retain new talent into public service.

“There’s no shortage of things to work on, and recruitment is certainly one of them,” she said. “He’s also coming at a time when the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results will be coming in, so I think he will have a very full plate.”

Springer, who served as OPM director from 2005 to 2008, said that the push toward greater digital services and technology affords Nesterczuk the possibility of helming great transformation in the federal government.

“My advice to George would be to use this as an opportunity to look at not only what OPM does, but the delivery model that it uses and to look for ways to innovate and deliver those services,” she said.
 

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