VP Harris breaks tie to confirm Ahuja to lead OPM
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Jun 22, 2021
Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tiebreaking vote to confirm Kiran Ahuja to lead the Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday.
Harris also used her vote to break a tie on the cloture motion to proceed to the vote.
Ahuja is a veteran of OPM. She served as chief of staff of the agency when it was recovering from the devastating hack of employee personnel data during the Obama administration.
At her confirmation hearing in April, Ahuja said she hoped to help improve federal employee morale and convert federal retirement processing from a paper-based to a digital system. She also said she would be "leaning into" rethinking opportunities for telework and remote work for federal employees.
The human resources agency has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since March 2020 when Dale Cabaniss abruptly quit.
Ahuja's nomination was the target of ire from Senate Republicans, who said her past statements and professional associations reflected a view of the United States as a racist country.
"I'm concerned that Ms. Ahuja is a disciple of radical critical race theorists," Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in advance of a vote to end debate on the nomination Tuesday morning.
In response to a question from Hawley at her confirmation hearing on whether she thought the U.S. was "systemically racist nation," Ahuja said, "I understand and appreciate also that the historical challenges that have many individuals have experienced based on their race or ethnicity and I think it's important that we have that understanding in addressing problems and inequities."
Trump administration issued an executive order in 2020 designed to purge certain concepts from federal government and federal contractor diversity and inclusion training, including critical race theory. That order was overturned under the Biden administration.
Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.