Congress Criticizes OPM for not Producing Reorg Documents

Members of Congress raised concerns over what they called a spotty response from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to requests from the Hill for documents related to OPM’s reorganization plan, during a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations on June 27.

As OPM pursues its plan to merge with the General Services Administration (GSA), subcommittee members expressed their displeasure with the lack of details from the agency on reorganization plans, a concern they previously expressed.

“OPM’s blanket refusal to provide the information the committee has requested is unacceptable,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the subcommittee.

Criticism of the lack of document production came from both sides of the aisle.

“If you’re here to say that ‘it’s part of the deliberative process and Congress can’t see the documents,’ I would urge you strongly not to go there. You will find the full force of Republicans and Democrats coming together to acknowledge that that is not a legitimate reason,” said Mark Meadows, R-N.C., ranking member of the subcommittee.

Meadows expressed some sympathy for the administration’s reasoning behind the reorganization plan, but emphasized that lawmakers need evidence to justify the move.

“I was very troubled at the IT capacity of OPM. We have got to do something, whether that’s consolidation or moving to GSA. We have a third-world computing system for OPM – no wonder we got hacked,” he said. “The more documents you give us in a transparent fashion – even if you think that it gives the wrong impression – is better than us not getting the documents,” he added.

Steven Billy, OPM’s deputy chief of staff, said OPM has provided more documents since a hearing on the agency’s reorganization plan, and is working to provide more.

“OPM has redoubled its efforts and is in the process of continuing to gather and provide additional responsive documents to this committee,” he said. Billy noted that OPM aims to produce a “few thousand” more documents.

However, Connolly pointed to OPM’s redaction in documents of the legal authority it has to move forward with the reorganization.

“Any reasonable member of Congress can look at that and realize we have a problem,” he said.

While Democrats made their opposition to OPM’s merger in principle clear, Republicans also shared their concerns over the process of the Trump administration’s merger proposal. On the redacted legal authority, Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., took OPM to task.

“That’s totally unacceptable. We expect to get the information we request,” he said.

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