White House Replaces Federal Personnel Director in Surprise Shakeup

Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon stepped down Friday. Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon stepped down Friday. OPM photo

The White House on Friday announced that Margaret Weichert, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is now leading the Office of Personnel Management as its acting director.

The announcement came as OPM’s Senate-confirmed director, Jeff Pon, abruptly announced his resignation on Friday, an agency spokesman confirmed. Neither the White House announcement nor the OPM spokesman elaborated on the details behind the decision.

“This came as a surprise,” said the spokesman. He said that Pon submitted a letter of resignation on Friday.

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Pon was confirmed to the position in March. He was Trump’s second OPM director appointee, after the first, George Nesterczuk, withdrew following controversies surrounding his nomination. Pon most recently was the chief human resources and strategy officer at the Society for Human Resources Management and previously served as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM.

Pon led the charge on the Trump administration's efforts to shake up the civil service, taking steps to implement the president’s executive orders to ease the firing of federal employees and limit the power of their unions. He was later forced to roll back that guidance, after a federal court struck down the orders. The administration is fighting that decision on appeal.

Pon was a defender of Trump’s proposal to freeze federal pay in 2019 and to merge many of OPM's core functions with the General Services Administration, while folding what remains into a policy shop within the White House.

A Weichert spokesman at OMB said the matter was a “White House decision” and referred questions there. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The president made a fantastic decision to designate Margaret Weichert as the acting director of OPM," said OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. "Margaret has my full trust and support, and I know she will hit the ground running to ensure the federal workforce has the right skills and tools to deliver the proper services to the American people.”

This story has been updated

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