House Dems Seek to Put Brakes on OPM Reorganization

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

FITARA Awards 2019 - Congressman Gerald Connolly

A group of 19 House Democrats–many from districts close to Washington–asked leaders of the House Appropriations Committee in a letter dated today to put the brakes on a Trump administration plan to shift government functions currently performed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the General Services Administration (GSA).

The shifting of those functions was included in the White House’s Federal government reorganization proposal made in June 2018.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee plans to hold a hearing on the reorganization proposal next month, Democrats said.

The proposal made the biggest headlines with a plan to merge the Departments of Education and Labor, but also features a strong push to use technology to modernize the delivery of government services to citizens, as well as seeking to address the Federal cybersecurity workforce shortage by “establishing a unified cyber workforce capability across the civilian enterprise.”  The plan received a mixed review on Capitol Hill, particularly on how it would impact the Federal workforce.

Opposition to the proposal among D.C.-area lawmakers with larger shares of Federal government employees was underscored by today’s letter to House Appropriations leaders from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee.

In their letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Appropriations Committee and its Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, Reps. Cummings and Connolly asked that as lawmakers consider the FY2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill they not appropriate any funding to implement a “proposed merger” of OPM and GSA, and that they “prohibit the use of any funding for such purpose until the Administration has provided sufficient information and justification for the transaction to Congress.”

The letter notes that $50 million has been proposed by the Trump administration for a GSA working capital fund that would pay for transitioning OPM functions to GSA.

“We have grave concerns about the Administration’s proposal to dismantle OPM and shift its functions to GSA, the Department of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President,” the letter states.  “We are also troubled that the Administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress on the merger and reorganization plans.”

Reps. Cummings and Connolly said the Oversight Committee has made numerous attempts to get more detail on the administration’s reorganization plans, but has not received what they consider to be “sufficient” detail, or written legal analysis from the Trump administration of the authorities needed for the reorganization.  Rep. Connolly asked Margaret Weichert, who is acting director at OPM, for more information last week.

The 19 Democrats asked House Appropriations leaders to approve no funding for the proposed OPM-GSA transfers until the Trump administration providers a laundry list of additional data including:

  • Impact on full-time equivalent employees;
  • Analyses of legal authorities OPM and GSA have or would need from Congress;
  • Cost-benefit analyses;
  • Written confirmation that the administration has addressed all related objections and concerns of the OPM and GSA Offices of Inspector General;
  • Written confirmation that the administration has provided sufficient notices under collective bargaining agreements and rights under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute; and
  • Detailed analysis that shows that the administration’s reorganization plan, and the transfers of functions from OPM to GSA, “make the Federal government more efficient and effective.”

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