The White House sent its official legislative proposal to break apart the Office of Personnel Management to Congress May 16, placing its functions in the General Services Administration and Executive Office of the President.
The proposal, obtained by Federal Times, outlines a plan for changing the U.S. Code to migrate OPM authorities to the administrator of the General Services Administration, who would then delegate those authorities to the director of the new personnel management office within GSA.
The legislation would also establish an Office of Federal Workforce Policy within the Office of Management and Budget, which would receive all of OPM’s current rulemaking authority.
“The primary purpose of the legislative proposal is to authorize the transfer of the vast majority of the current functions and resources of OPM to GSA, including human resources solutions, information technology, retirement, health and insurance services. GSA will create a new Personnel Service to house the human resources and employee lifecycle management shared service offerings,” wrote acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought in a letter to congressional leadership preceding the proposal.
OPM has existed since 1979, when the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 established to replace the United States Civil Service Commission.
The General Services Administration, meanwhile, has been around since 1949.
The plan to merge the two was first announced in a June 2018 White House reorganization plan.
According to the proposal, the director of OPM — who would be moved under GSA authority — would still be a Senate-confirmed position, but the deputy director of OPM would not be. The deputy administrator for GSA, which is currently not a Senate-confirmed position, would then move up to require that confirmation.
At the same time, a president-appointed administrator would lead the Office of Federal Workforce Policy and report to OMB’s deputy director for management.
Such changes would bump the administrator of GSA to a Level II Executive Schedule position, with a higher rate of pay, while bumping the OPM director down to a Level III position.
The chief financial officer is the only position that would no longer be legally required at the agency, although the OPM Office of Inspector General would be integrated into the GSA OIG.
The OMB deputy director for management and the GSA administrator would also take over as chair and vice chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, respectively.
According to the proposal, the change would impact the fiscal year 2020 budget by about $50 million, while all of the appropriations and revolving and trust funds would be transferred to the administrator of GSA.
Acting OPM Director and OMB Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert told reporters at a Tuesday roundtable that the administration will be able to find workarounds to transfer some authorities from OPM to GSA if Congress doesn’t pass legislation.
But congressional support for the reorganization would “allow for a more seamless transition,” according to the proposal.
Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.