Executive order asserts the power of OPM, MSPB

Even federal agencies that don't have to follow standard civil service rules must still answer to merit system oversight agencies, according to an executive order issued in the Federal Register Thursday.

Title 5 of the U.S. Code dictates standard personnel rules for the federal government. The Office of Personnel Management is required by law to ensure that federal agencies operate their human resources management programs in accordance with the merit system principles of fairness, efficiency and objectivity. OPM does so by reviewing workforce information that agencies are legally required to provide.

But certain federal agencies are exempt from the personnel rules of Title 5. For example, performance-based organizations, such as the Education Department's Student Financial Aid office, are exempt from the strict personnel rules of Title 5. Parts of the IRS and parts of the Veterans Affairs Department, as well as the entire Federal Aviation Administration, are also not governed by Title 5.

As a result, there has been debate in the federal human resources community as to whether these agencies are required to report workforce information to OPM and are subject to oversight by OPM and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the federal government's guardian of merit-based employment.

Executive Order 13197 ends the debate by clarifying that all federal agencies in the executive branch, including those exempt from Title 5, must comply with merit system principles and must submit workforce information to OPM for oversight purposes. There is one exception: agencies that deal with national security, such as the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Imagery and Mapping Agency, are exempt from the order.

"The President and the public need to be assured that federal agencies are monitoring the exercise of all human resources management authorities that have been delegated to them," the order said.

OPM's merit systems oversight office uses workforce data to identify opportunities for improving personnel programs and to help agencies with effective recruitment and employee development.

John Palguta, director of MSPB's office of policy and evaluation, said the executive order has been in the works since last spring. Work on the executive order, dated Jan. 18, was completed in time for it to be issued during the last days of the Clinton administration. But Palguta said he doubts that the Bush administration will override the order.

"It simply sets the record straight," Palguta said. "It's one of those good government provisions that makes sure Congress and the President will have access to information."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.