NDAA blocks OPM-GSA merger

By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268 

The Trump administration's plan to merge the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration is going to have to wait another year, if a provision included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act is passed into law.

The legislative language in the NDAA prohibits officials from the "transfer, transition, [merger or consolidation] of any functions, responsibilities, information technology systems, staff, resources of records" that are "assigned in law" to OPM.

The conference report was approved by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and conferees have urged passage by each chamber. A White House statement said that the NDAA "advances many of President Donald J. Trump’s priorities" and indicated that it would be signed into law.

The NDAA language also stipulates that the merger wouldn't be able to take place until 180 days after the National Academy of Public Administration completed an independent report analyzing the OPM's structure and missions, and execution of its activities, as well as any recommendations for correction. OPM would also need to provide Congress with a full report of its views on such a report once NAPA submitted it for their consideration.

"OPM looks forward to working with NAPA on the proposed upcoming study. The desired outcome of this study is to give OPM and its stakeholders a view in on potential pathways for the agency's future," Director of Communications Anthony Marucci said in a statement emailed to FCW. "OPM looks forward to working with the United States Congress on assessing those pathways that provide the best outcomes for the American taxpayer."

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) submitted an amendment to the NDAA in July sought to block the merger. Federal employee unions have protested the proposed merger in the past.

Members from both the Democratic and Republican parties have pushed back against the proposed merger, and a report from OPM's Inspector General published Nov. 6 stated that the office still lacks an detailed plan as to how it will carry out the merger.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


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