The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent its proposal to reorganize the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – and move most of its functions under the General Services Administration (GSA) – to Congress on Thursday, May 17.

At the top line, the legislation would transfer OPM’s operational activities to GSA, and its rulemaking authority to OMB.

The proposal would create a new national service under GSA, similar to the Federal Acquisition Service and the Public Buildings Service, to house OPM’s Human Resources Solutions, Retirement, Health and Insurance Services organizations, while creating a new Office of Federal Workforce Policy (OFWP) within OMB that would inherit OPM’s policy authorities. However, “by delegation and in practice, GSA will conduct the significant majority of this rulemaking,” the proposal states.

The new OFWP would assume policy authorities for OPM’s existing mandate on workforce issues, but Margaret Weichert, deputy director at OMB and acting director at OPM, told reporters earlier this week that the office would not take away any OPM positions, but instead add three new positions within OMB and combine efforts with the existing Office of Performance and Personnel Management.

The legislative proposal notes the office is modeled after the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within OMB, with a presidentially appointed administrator.

As part of moving OPM to GSA, OPM would no longer have an appointed-and-confirmed director, and would lose its deputy director position and chief financial officer requirement as well. Within GSA, the proposal would make GSA’s deputy administrator a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position, replace the chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council with the deputy director at OMB and the vice chair with the head of GSA, and combine the inspectors general for GSA and OPM.

“The status quo structural model and financial risks resulting from the transfer of background investigations to the Department of Defense spell disaster for the IT and operational viability of the agency,” the proposal states.

The proposal estimates a discretionary budget impact of $50 million, but emphasizes the synergies between OPM and GSA.

“This vision is not designed to reduce the size of the workforce, but more importantly, the reorganization will better support human capital delivery across the Federal government by centralizing the services both agencies currently provide, reducing duplication, and empowering our workforce to shift to higher value work.”

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MeriTalk Staff