People

Director Jeff Pon out at OPM

DDM Margaret Weichert March 20 2018

Margaret Weichert, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, will also serve as acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Jeff Tien Han Pon resigned suddenly as director of the Office of Personnel Management on Oct. 5. Sources told FCW the resignation came at the request of the administration.

Margaret Weichert, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, will be taking over as OPM's acting director.

The White House announced the leadership change Friday afternoon as much of official Washington was riveted by a Senate speech from Maine Republican Susan Collins announcing her support for embattled Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Weichert's boss at OMB, Director Mick Mulvaney, welcomed the move.

"The President made a fantastic decision to designate Margaret Weichert as the Acting Director of OPM," he said in a statement. "Margaret has my full trust and support, and I know she will hit the ground running to ensure the federal workforce has the right skills and tools to deliver the proper services to the American people."

The move comes amid a White House plan to merge several of OPM's core functions with the General Services Administration, and moving much of the human resources policymaking to the White House.

Two sources told FCW on background that OPM was slow-rolling its end of the proposed OPM-GSA consolidation.

Pon had said publicly in the past that before the agency transfers health benefits and retirement systems to GSA, the agency plans to first digitize the currently paper-based records, which he said will take "at least a year or two."

According to a draft solicitation put out by GSA in August for support services to lead the merger, the government anticipates transferring OPM's 462-person Office of HR Solutions, which covers health insurance and retirement services, to GSA by March 30, 2019. The overall merger is set to be accomplished by 2020.

The change also comes after OPM and the administration opted to appeal a federal court decision striking down key pieces of three executive orders that put new restrictions on union activities inside agencies and changed the agency-union negotiation process. Pon rescinded guidance on how agencies should implement the executive orders in the wake of the reversals in court.

The personnel move apparently came as a surprise to Pon and the OPM press office, which did not have a press statement at hand. Just a day before his retirement, Pon issued a routine memo to chief human capital officers aimed at boosting Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey scores.

FCW Executive Editor Adam Mazmanian contributed reporting to this story.

This story was updated Oct. 5 with comment from OMB.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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