Report: Trump administration plans to dismantle agency overseeing civil service
The Trump administration is planning to dismantle the Office of Personnel Management, a decades-old federal agency that oversees the federal government’s civil service, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The paper said the agency “would be pulled apart and its functions divided among three other departments.” Citing conversations with unnamed administration officials, the Post reported that an executive order “directing parts of the transition by the fall is in the final stages of review” and that President Donald Trump will “likely” make an announcement on the plan in the coming months.
According to the paper, the agency’s 5,565 employees were briefed on the plan in March.
The Post said the White House “is short on details” of the plan, but noted that it plans to break apart the agency “in several stages, with some steps beginning now and other changes delayed pending congressional approval.” It also said officials “were not able to estimate the short- or long-term savings” of the agency’s closure. According to the paper, OPM’s annual budget is $2.1 billion.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, told CNN Wednesday that Trump “is committed to reforming the federal government, making it more efficient, effective, and accountable for hardworking American taxpayers.”
The paper said two of the agency’s “core functions, the employee retirement and health-care systems,” would be transferred to another agency, which would require congressional approval. The White House is working to “parcel out” other agency responsibilities by the fall, the paper said, with the agency’s background investigation operation being put under the Defense Department’s purview and the General Services Administration taking over OPM’s “human resources role, including training, pay and hiring, workforce planning, and the inspector general’s office.”
According to the Post, the White House is asking Congress for $50 million in fiscal year 2020 to execute the plan and OPM does not “intend to lay anyone off but instead will shrink the workforce through retirements and unfilled vacancies.”
Margaret Weichert, OPM’s acting director and OMB’s deputy director, told the paper that the dismantling of the agency is “a big, exemplary step,” and that the agency, which was formed in 1978, was “fundamentally not set up for success, structurally.”
CNN has reached out to Weichert’s office for comment.
In a letter sent to Weichert last month and provided to CNN by Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office, the Virginia Democrat, who chairs the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on government operations, requested details of the plan from Weichert and invited her to testify before the subcommittee on the matter.
And in a letter sent last week to the House Appropriations Committee, Connolly, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who chairs the oversight committee, suggested “Congress should prohibit funds to carry out any activities related” to the plan until the administration provides Congress with “with adequate policy and legal justification for reorganizing OPM.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.