GSA, OPM get new chiefs

Google Maps: General Services Administration. 

The U.S. General Services Administration headquarters.

President Donald Trump announced a raft of 42 senior level appointments Sept. 1 in a Friday evening news release, including candidates to head the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, as well as a new deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

The three posts are key to the functioning of government, specializing in workforce management, procurement policy, IT policy and other government-wide management activities.

Emily Webster Murphy, formerly a counsel for the House Armed Services Committee and the Small Business Committee, was tapped to serve as GSA administrator. The appointment was widely rumored among acquisition experts for months before the news was released. In addition to her extensive Capitol Hill experience, Murphy previously worked at GSA chief acquisition officer from 2005 to 2007.

Jeff Tien Han Pon is Trump's pick to lead OPM. Pon's government experience includes stints as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM and chief human capital officer at the Department of Energy. At OPM, according to the White House release, Pon helped lead the rollout of USAJobs. In the private sector, Pon was most recently chief human resources and strategy officer at the Society for Human Resource Management. He has also worked as a human resources expert at Booz Allen.

Margaret Weichert is slated to serve as deputy director for management at OMB. Weichert is currently serving in OMB as senior adviser. An expert in payment technology, Weichert is credited as an inventor on 14 patents. Before OMB, she worked as a principal at Ernst & Young.

All three face immediate and pressing management challenges.

At GSA, Murphy arrives in the midst of a reorganization that saw the elevation of the Federal Acquisition Service to include the Technology Transformation Services. Additionally, Murphy faces the prospect of a politically fraught inspector general probe reviewing an administrative decision to permit the Trump Organization to maintain its lease on the Old Post Office, now the site of the Trump International Hotel. Many critics asserted that the terms of the lease, on their face, prohibited an elected official from being a leaseholder.

Pon arrives at an OPM that hasn't fully righted itself from the devastating 2015 hack that resulted in the loss of more than 20 million personnel records. He faces a serious backlog of applicants for security clearances -- as many as 700,000 individuals. He's also going to need to hire a CIO to replace Dave DeVries, the former DOD tech executive who was brought in to secure the agency infrastructure and manage the transition to a new DOD-run system to process clearances.

Pon will also have to convince federal employee unions that he's the right person to lead the federal workforce. A previous nominee, George Nesterczuk, withdrew from consideration after he was unable to secure a confirmation hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, largely owing to objections from panel Democrats.

Weichert's proposed elevation at OMB comes as the White House has just rolled out an ambitious IT modernization plan that includes a series of 30-day deadlines involving deliverables from the federal CIO, who reports to the deputy director of management.

Trump also nominated Frederick Nutt to serve as controller in the Office of Federal Financial Management, which is housed inside OMB.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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