Leadership

Senate delays OPM director vote as employee groups issue opposition

The committee responsible for hearing and casting initial votes on President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Personnel Management has delayed making a decision to give certain members of the committee time to gather more information.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee was scheduled to vote on the nomination of John Gibbs to be director of OPM Sept. 16 but deferred that vote until a later date.

At the committee’s hearing to question several Trump nominees, Gibbs came under scrutiny for past controversial comments and tweets.

Those comments, along with Gibbs’ background, were part of the rationale for two federal employee organizations urging the committee to vote no on the nomination.

“Mr. Gibbs lacks the experience in federal personnel management needed to succeed in this position,” National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to committee leadership.

“His well-documented history of making inflammatory remarks that, at best, demonstrate an insensitivity to individuals of different backgrounds and faiths raise serious concerns about his ability to lead the federal civil service. Furthermore, his tweets regarding new hires being loyal to the president only underscores concerns about his ability to adhere to the merit systems principles, protect employees from retaliation for disclosing waste, fraud and abuse, and ensure that other federal agencies do so as well.”

The Senior Executives Association noted in their Sept. 15 letter to the committee that Gibbs did not regret making such comments, but rather that they had merely become an issue. The organization also took issue with Gibbs’s top three priorities of time-to-hire, retirement processing and IT modernization should he be made OPM director.

“These are not OPM’s biggest challenges. As this committee is aware, the agency has not been without significant challenges in recent years,” interim SEA President Robert Corsi wrote in the letter.

“SEA made the case in a detailed study released this summer that a wholescale transformation of the governance of federal human capital management is necessary, and OPM is a key focal area of the study.”

Under the Trump administration, OPM has had two Senate-confirmed directors, both of whom spent less than a year in the post.

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