Molly Prince, DCNF
The White House is moving to dissolve the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and reorganize the agency’s responsibilities into three existing departments in order to “drive what is needed to support the mission in all of government.”
“When we really look at the need for government overall, and we looked at the [OPM’s] design to support those needs, there was a fundamental structural misalignment between the challenges of today around our workforce and what OPM was conditioned to do,” Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and acting OPM director, told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.
The agency was formed in 1979 and tasked with managing the government’s civilian workforce, which includes healthcare, insurance and retirement benefits, as well as oversight and human resources policies for federal employees.
President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to dismantle OPM, beginning in fall 2019, and divide its functions among three separate departments: Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The OPM is responsible for managing the majority of government security clearances. The restructuring would have the DOD oversee the massive background investigation operation. And GSA could soon take over OPM’s current human resources obligations, according to The Washington Post.
OMB would head the high-level policies that govern federal employees, but only three people from OPM are expected to transfer over to the executive office, a senior administration official explained to TheDCNF. However, those three individuals would be tasked with new work rather that no person is doing today.
“The mission of this agency is incredibly important and in the president’s management agenda there are three priorities for transforming government for the 21st century,” Weichert told TheDCNF. Those being “IT modernization, data accountability and transparency.”
“In the 21st century, mobility, agility, the need to re-skill people to do the jobs of today, these are all things that are not able to be done by OPM because it’s dealing with this legacy infrastructure, a legacy funding model,” she continued. “That’s the primary reason strategically this is the marquee reorganization that is needed.”
The White House does not foresee the reorganization laying off any federal workers, but the workforce is estimated to decrease through retirements and unfilled vacancies, reported The Post.
“Our goal isn’t specifically to reduce head count,” Weichert said. “But we do think there are a lot of efficiencies to be had.”
“We have space utilization opportunities that we think are important,” she continued. “At the end of the day our goal is to re-skill the employees we have, automate some of the lower value added components of their work so that they can actually do more with fewer people.”
The senior administration official also told TheDCNF that the plan is anticipated to save taxpayer dollars, but the exact cost savings is not yet known.
Current OPM employees were advised of the changes in March 2019 and Trump is expected to make an official announcement by this summer.
If the Trump administration is able to dismantle the OPM, it will be the first major federal agency to be eliminated since World War II.
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