OPM asked to explain fellows program snafu

This story has been updated.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked Office of Personnel Management officials to explain a recent Presidential Management Fellows program mishap.

In a March 1 letter to OPM Director John Berry, Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Dennis Ross, R-Fla., chairmen of the committee and its Federal Workforce Subcommittee, respectively, sought more information related to a Jan. 23 incident when OPM mistakenly sent acceptance emails to 300 semifinalists who hadn’t qualified for the prestigious fellows program. About a quarter of the 1,186 semifinalists received the erroneous letters. Later that day the same applicants received another email informing them there was an error in the system.

In the letter, Issa and Ross expressed concern that the notification mistake was “indicative of larger IT failures at OPM,” including the agency’s recent troubles with retirement processing and USAJobs.gov.

Issa and Ross’ request included a description of “all issues that may have adversely affected a candidate’s ability to apply for the program,” as well as a timeline of changes that have been made to the fellows program, the retention rate for fellows and a list of formal complaints filed with OPM regarding the program. The agency has until April 13 to provide the information.

OPM is reviewing the letter and will respond “as appropriate,” Executive Director of Employee Services Angela Bailey said in a statement.

“Our goal is to have this program shine and be a premier gateway to federal service,” she said. “We are working hard to ensure any mistakes are not repeated. Above all else, OPM is committed to making this program equal to the excellence of the leaders it attracts.”

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