Workforce

OPM veterans on the Biden-Harris transition team

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

The Biden-Harris transition has tapped multiple former Office of Personnel Management employees to serve on the landing team at the federal government's human resources agency.

So far, agency transition teams, announced on Nov. 10, haven't been able to set up shop inside the government. They're waiting on Emily Murphy, the top official at the General Services Administration, to "ascertain" the electoral victory by former vice president Joe Biden. Her approval, which is being withheld despite clear indications of a Biden victory, is needed to release millions of federal dollars appropriated to support the transition.

In advance of GSA designating Biden as president-elect, the transition team is working outside of government, consulting with former officials and experts, according to a transition team press release.

Kiran Ahuja, who served as the chief of staff in the OPM during the Obama administration from 2015 to 2017, leads the OPM review team.. She also worked as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Obama White House, and she is currently the CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional philanthropic network of six northwestern states.

Team members Chris Canning, Matt Collier, Melody Gonzales, David Marsh and Andrew Stanner are all former OPM officials.

Canning, who currently works at DKC Public Relations, worked as a senior advisor in OPM and was the acting chief of staff and director of external affairs in OPM for part of 2015.

Collier served in the U.S. Digital Service at the White House, as a senior advisor to the deputy director in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and as a senior advisor to the director in the OPM. Currently, he is a senior director Prudential PLC.

Gonzales now works at the National Education Association, but she previously worked in the OPM as deputy chief of staff from 2016 to 2017. She also served as chief of staff in the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor.

Marsh was previously in the OPM and the OMB, and he is currently with the Markle Foundation.

Finally, Stanner previously served as the deputy general counsel at the OPM, and he also spent time in the Department of Justice. He now works at Covington and Burling.

Other members of the landing team include Rita Aguilar, who formerly served as the Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Department of Justice. The transition websites lists the College Promise Campaign, a national nonprofit, as her most recent employer.

Theodora Chang, current senior manager at the Partnership for Public Service and former employee in the National Park Service and Department of Education, is also on the team. So is Ann Harkavy, the executive director of Democracy Forward and former deputy general counsel in the Department of Energy. Jane Lee rounds out the list. The transition website lists her most recent employer as 1560 LLC.

These OPM agency review team members are classified as volunteers, not full-time transition employees.

This team is also responsible for reviewing the Office of Government Ethics, the Office of Special Counsel, the Administrative Conference of the United States, the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Thrift Retirement Investment Board.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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