House Oversight Leaders Push Trump to Name OPM Chief Quickly

Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., (left) and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, both signed the letter. Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., (left) and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, both signed the letter. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

A bipartisan group of House oversight leaders is urging President Trump to move quickly in nominating a permanent director of the Office of Personnel Management.

The personnel agency needs a “strong and capable” leader fast, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a Feb. 6 letter to Trump. Chaffetz and Cummings were joined by leaders of two oversight subcommittees on both sides of the aisle: Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; Gerry Connolly, D-Va.; Will Hurd, R-Texas; and Robin Kelly, D-Ill.

“OPM oversees essential human resource functions for 2.7 million federal employees, including United States Postal Service personnel; administers retirement benefits for 2.6 million federal annuitants, spouses and survivors; and helps to secure the highly sensitive personnel information and background data of federal employees and contractors,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “It is imperative for this agency to have in place a director that is fully accountable, one who can provide the expertise, direction and management necessary.”

In addition to the responsibilities mentioned in the letter, OPM is playing a key role in implementation of Trump’s governmentwide hiring freeze. The president gave the leaders of OPM and the Office of Management and Budget 90 days to come up with a plan for cutting the federal workforce through attrition. Once that plan is implemented, the freeze will expire.

OPM directors are not always among the first appointees named in new presidential administrations. Then-President Obama nominated his first OPM chief, John Berry, more than a month after the inauguration and Berry was not confirmed until early April of 2009. If Trump were to follow a similar timeline, his OPM director would not be in place until close to the deadline for finalizing the attrition plan.

OPM has been under the leadership of acting Director Kathleen McGettigan, who issued guidance on the hiring freeze on Jan. 31, along with acting OMB Director Mark Sandy.

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