NARFE to Congress: Don’t Reward Lack of Transparency, Insufficient Planning with Fraught OPM-GSA Merger

Alexandria, Va. (May 21, 2019) – NARFE National President Ken Thomas testified today before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations regarding the proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA). The following are excerpts from Thomas’ testimony.

“The proposal is driven in large part by the budgetary impact caused by the transfer of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) from OPM to the Department of Defense (DOD). But the administration's failure to prepare for the budgetary consequences of this transfer and properly communicate them to Congress prior to its authorization of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act is not adequate justification for the transfer of OPM’s remaining functions to GSA.

“If the administration plans to ensure that agency leadership puts a greater focus on strategic workforce management and the stewardship of an efficient civil service structure, it needs to explain how OPM’s remaining functions will receive the attention and resources they deserve.
Furthermore, it is unclear how merging OPM and GSA will improve government-wide strategic human resources management … The transfer of OPM to GSA would risk not only important federal employee programs receiving insufficient attention and resources when folded into a larger organization, but also a lack of oversight and proper internal controls to protect against mismanagement. 

“But the logistics of the move aren’t what concerns us most. It’s the new Office of Federal Workforce Policy, which appears to have all the policy authority of the OPM Director without the checks and balances of Senate deliberation. Under this new office, civil service policy would ultimately be beholden to the President – a threat to the nonpolitical, merit-based civil service we have today. With an Administration that, at times, has shown disdain for professional, merit-based civil service, this raises red flags and concerns that the move is part of an effort to exert undue political influence on career hiring and firing decisions.

“Congress clearly intended OPM to be an independent body to ensure a politically neutral, merit-based federal workforce, and Congress intended to be the only authority able to change OPM’s core mission and independence. The statutory mission of OPM – propagating and regulating the laws governing the civil service, including merit principles and prohibited personnel practices that keep the federal workforce free from political influence – can only be modified by Congress.”

A copy of Thomas’ full testimony is available here.


About NARFE

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. One of the largest federal employee/retiree organizations, NARFE represents the interests of 5 million current and future federal and postal annuitants, spouses and survivors. 

CONTACT:
Jill Talley
NARFE Director of Public Relations
jtalley@narfe.org
(703) 838-7760

 

National Active and Retired

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES Association

NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.

NARFE to Congress: Don’t Reward Lack of Transparency, Insufficient Planning with Fraught OPM-GSA Merger

Alexandria, Va. (May 21, 2019) – NARFE National President Ken Thomas testified today before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations regarding the proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA). The following are excerpts from Thomas’ testimony.

“The proposal is driven in large part by the budgetary impact caused by the transfer of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) from OPM to the Department of Defense (DOD). But the administration's failure to prepare for the budgetary consequences of this transfer and properly communicate them to Congress prior to its authorization of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act is not adequate justification for the transfer of OPM’s remaining functions to GSA.

“If the administration plans to ensure that agency leadership puts a greater focus on strategic workforce management and the stewardship of an efficient civil service structure, it needs to explain how OPM’s remaining functions will receive the attention and resources they deserve.
Furthermore, it is unclear how merging OPM and GSA will improve government-wide strategic human resources management … The transfer of OPM to GSA would risk not only important federal employee programs receiving insufficient attention and resources when folded into a larger organization, but also a lack of oversight and proper internal controls to protect against mismanagement. 

“But the logistics of the move aren’t what concerns us most. It’s the new Office of Federal Workforce Policy, which appears to have all the policy authority of the OPM Director without the checks and balances of Senate deliberation. Under this new office, civil service policy would ultimately be beholden to the President – a threat to the nonpolitical, merit-based civil service we have today. With an Administration that, at times, has shown disdain for professional, merit-based civil service, this raises red flags and concerns that the move is part of an effort to exert undue political influence on career hiring and firing decisions.

“Congress clearly intended OPM to be an independent body to ensure a politically neutral, merit-based federal workforce, and Congress intended to be the only authority able to change OPM’s core mission and independence. The statutory mission of OPM – propagating and regulating the laws governing the civil service, including merit principles and prohibited personnel practices that keep the federal workforce free from political influence – can only be modified by Congress.”

A copy of Thomas’ full testimony is available here.


About NARFE

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. One of the largest federal employee/retiree organizations, NARFE represents the interests of 5 million current and future federal and postal annuitants, spouses and survivors. 

CONTACT:
Jill Talley
NARFE Director of Public Relations
jtalley@narfe.org
(703) 838-7760

 

National Active and Retired

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Association



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NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.