Connolly Questions Intentions Behind OPM’s Authority Removal

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and other Washington-area House members are questioning the Federal government’s decision to remove the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) building operation authority, and claiming that action is part of the Trump administration’s plan to move forward with an OPM-General Services Administration (GSA) merger.

In a letter signed by Reps. Connolly, Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., the members explained to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy that rescinding OPM’s authority to operate its own building is in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. That legislation, they said, requires a specific assessment of challenges and opportunities at OPM before any action can be taken.

“Any action to rescind OPM’s authority to operate its own buildings is a clear violation of this statutory provision … Your decision to rescind OPM’s authority is directly tied to the Trump Administration’s plan to abolish OPM and move its component parts to GSA,” the legislators assert in an April 1 letter.

According to the letter, the House Government Operations Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Connolly has held two hearings on the proposed OPM-GSA merger, and sent five letters to OPM, GSA, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) seeking answers on the merger plan. The members of Congress said they have received “no clear reasoning or analysis” in response.

“According to internal GSA emails newly released by the Committee, your intention to remove OPM’s building operation authority is part of the Administration’s proposed abolition of OPM,” the letter states. “It appears you withheld critical information from Congress and continued to take actions prohibited by statute, demonstrating a flagrant disregard for congressional authority and the law,” the House members added.

The representatives are requesting a transcribed video conference interview with Murphy by April 15 to discuss the proposed merger.

GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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