OPM chief abruptly quits
- By Lia Russell
- Mar 17, 2020
Dale Cabaniss resigned suddenly as director of the Office of Personnel Management on March 17, an agency spokesperson confirmed to FCW.
Deputy director Michael Rigas will lead OPM on an acting basis, the spokesperson said.
The resignation comes just six months after Cabaniss was confirmed to head OPM, and amid a chaotic time in federal workforce management, as agencies struggle to extend telework to federal employees and make other human resources adjustments in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Politico, which broke the story of the resignation, Cabaniss quit because of friction with John McEntee, the recently appointed head of the Presidential Personnel Office. McEntee, it has been widely reported, is leading an effort to push individuals seen as insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump out of senior federal agency appointments.
An OPM source who declined to be identified said that there was agency scuttlebutt about strife between Cabaniss and Presidential Personnel Office appointees in recent days.
In the first days of the federal workforce response to coronavirus, policy memos were being issued by OPM. That changed over last weekend, with the White House-based Office of Management and Budget taking the lead role.
"If reports are true, then the Trump administration's mismanagement and political appointees have once again brought chaos to the federal workforce," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who chairs a House subcommittee with oversight responsibilities over OPM, said in a statement. "At the very moment we need OPM to operate smoothly and efficiently, including expanding telework for all eligible workers and contractors, we are instead faced with uncertainty that threatens to paralyze this agency."
Cabaniss took over in September for acting OPM head Margaret Weichert, who is also the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Weichert also recently announced that she's leaving government sometime this month.
When Cabaniss joined OPM, an effort to merge the agency with the General Services Administration was underway, but was later blocked in an end-of-year Congressional defense bill that required OPM to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration for a study before any such effort could be undertaken.