OPM stonewalls probe of hiring practices, watchdog says
- By Lia Russell
- Jul 23, 2020
An agency watchdog and a senior member of the House Oversight Committee are contending that the Office of Personnel Management has repeatedly failed to respond in a timely manner to requests to turn over relevant records during the course of an investigation into White House hiring practices, in an apparent violation of federal law.
OPM Acting Inspector General Norbert Vint told members of the House and Senate appropriators in a July 22 letter that he had requested agency records on June 9, expecting to receive them by June 17, but that OPM had repeatedly pushed back their timeline to comply to as late as July 17.
An OPM spokesperson told FCW that the documents requested were submitted July 22.
Vint is looking to investigate OPM's use and delegation of direct hire authority.
"The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act…prohibits the use of appropriated funds to deny an Inspector General timely access to any records, or to prevent or impede that Inspector General’s access to such records," Vint wrote.
"The OPM OIG repeatedly informed the agency that we would accept a rolling production, yet 35 days later the agency has failed to provide the OPM OIG with any documents."
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight Committee and chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee, blasted OPM for failing to comply with the IG’s records request in a timely fashion.
"The continued stonewalling from Trump administration is an affront to our Constitution," he said. "Cooperating with oversight is not optional."
Connolly had sought an IG probe in May of the Trump administration's use of direct hiring authorities, which Connolly said the White House was using to circumvent civil service hiring requirements.
This story was updated July 24 with comment from OPM.
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.