New OPM chief confirmed by Senate

Linda Springer takes over personnel agency during contentious time for the federal workforce.

The Senate voted Friday to confirm Linda Springer as the new head of the Office of Personnel Management.

Springer takes over the agency during a tumultuous period for the federal workforce. The Defense and Homeland Security departments are in the process of overhauling their personnel frameworks, scrapping the General Schedule system, reducing union collective bargaining rights and streamlining the appeals process. The two agencies are also implementing pay-for-performance systems.

The Bush administration has proposed expanding these changes to the rest of the federal government. Union officials and some lawmakers have vocally opposed some of the moves and everal unions have taken legal action in an attempt to block their implementation.

Springer is the former controller at the Office of Management and Budget, a position that also required Senate confirmation. In March, President Bush nominated Springer to lead OPM, but her confirmation was stalled by the Senate's contentious debate over filibusters and judicial nominees.

Before working at OMB, Springer was a senior vice president and controller at financial services company Provident Mutual and a vice president at Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.

After Springer was confirmed Friday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded the new appointee.

"This position is vitally important, given the challenges facing the federal civil service and the many missions the government carries out on behalf of the nation," Collins said. "The OPM director must ensure our government has the ability to recruit and retain a highly skilled workforce. Ms. Springer appears to have the executive management and leadership skills necessary to do the job well. I look forward to continuing working with her on the challenges that lie ahead."

Springer is replacing Kay Coles James, who resigned from her position in January. Dan Blair has been serving as the acting director at OPM since James left the government.