Management

House Dems oppose White House reorg plan

workflow (Urupong Phunkoed/Shutterstock.com) 

The White House's proposal to reorganize and shutter the Office of Personnel Management hit a major snag.

In a letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, 19 Democrats on the Oversight and Reform Committee opposed spending any money on the proposed merger between OPM and the General Services Administration.

The White House's fiscal year 2020 budget requested $50 million to fund the consolidation.

"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," they wrote. "We are also troubled that the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress on the merger and reorganization plans."

The Republican controlled Congress last session didn't vote on legislation to authorize the reorganization plan. Now the House's opposition dims those chances even further.

The lawmakers noted that the Committee on Oversight and Reform has made "multiple requests" of the White House for details on the proposal. While the lawmakers acknowledge administration staff briefed the committee, the briefing did not provide enough information, and "to date, the administration has failed to provide the committee with the plans or any detailed justification."

What aspects of the reorganization can be accomplished administratively -- and what's trying to be accomplished -- have been another unclear aspect of the proposal. In the letter, the House members write that they, too, remain unclear on what authorities are required to reorganize the agencies.

"Until the administration has provided Congress with adequate policy and legal justification for reorganizing OPM, Congress should prohibit funds to carry out any activities related to the administration's proposal," they write.

Among the information they're seeking includes a cost-benefit analysis showing all costs and savings for each year of the merger, analysis showing the reorganization will increase federal efficiency and efficacy, as well as confirmation the administration has provided "sufficient notice and opportunities for involvement" in the planning process among agency employees and unions.

The Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, chaired by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), plans to hold a hearing on the OPM reorganization in May.

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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