White House pushes OPM-GSA merger
- By Chase Gunter
- Mar 20, 2019
The Trump administration is pushing ahead with a plan to merge the Office of Personnel Management with General Services Administration and the Executive Office of the President, and is exploring what can be done without congressional approval.
Margaret Weichert, the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, said the administration is currently "finalizing some of the legal authorities" to carry out what can be done without Congress.
"We think there's a huge amount around HR services, IT and many of the shared services we would be able to do administratively, using a variety of vehicles," she told reporters after a March 20 event hosted by the National Academy for Public Administration.
The plan calls for the policy side of OPM to be merged into the White House and for insurance and pensions and other back office functions to move to GSA.
"I think some of the pure statutory elements defined in Title 5 and elsewhere, particularly around the trust funds, and the pure policy and oversight activities, would require legislation," she said, adding that a adding a proposal is "coming out soon."
Weichert said that “most of the people at OPM would be put into a shared agency that is a mission-support agency,” to be housed at GSA. A few policy posts would migrate to the Office of Management and Budget. Under current law, the director of OPM is a Senate-confirmed position. But it’s unclear whether that position status would change under the merger. An OMB spokesperson referred questions on the position to OPM. OPM did not respond by press time.
The administration is seeking $50 million in no-year money in the 2020 budget to support the merger -- the first cost estimate of the reorganization proposed last year.
"Funding will be used to purchase new equipment, analyze and incorporate OPM business processes into GSA processes, incorporate OPM systems into GSA's network, move and transition OPM staff, and perform audit and security assessments of those systems," the budget states. "Transition costs are primarily driven by the IT-related remediation and transformation work necessary to ensure OPM IT systems are securely integrated into GSA's network."
At a congressional hearing last year, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy told lawmakers IT consolidation would be a significant part of the transition.