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NAPA to study OPM-GSA merger

The National Academy of Public Administrators announced it had contracted with the Office of Personnel Management to study the ramifications of Trump administration plans to merge the personnel agency with the General Services Administration.

The study was mandated by legislative language included in the fiscal year 2020 defense bill.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who strongly opposed the merger, said he'd be watching the study closely.

"OPM is the very heart of our civil service. The [Trump] Administration is using the [coronavirus] pandemic to circumvent OPM's expertise and move federal workforce policy inside of the Executive Office of the President," Connolly told FCW in a statement. "The Administration's actions are dangerous and precisely what NAPA's study is meant to prevent."

In a March 23 statement, NAPA said that a panel of five experts would direct Academy research staff to study the merger’s potential outcomes. NAPA will consider items such as stakeholders’ views, OPM’s statutory mandates, any challenges that such a merger would present to carrying out agency functions, potential costs and benefits, and the impact that the merger could have on labor-management relations.

"This commission has the opportunity to help make OPM the agency it needs to be to ensure our federal civil service operates on expertise and not loyalty to this administration," Connolly said. "I'm watching closely to ensure that NAPA finds the right people to perform this important work."

The study is expected to be delivered to Congress in March 2021. Completion of the study was listed in the defense bill as a condition of executing any GSA-OPM merger. Even so, GSA included a request for $70 million to cover the cost of merging with OPM in its fiscal year 2021 budget proposal.

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