United States Office of Personnel Management
|Formed||January 1, 1979|
|Jurisdiction||U.S. federal government|
|Headquarters||Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building|
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C., US
The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that manages the US civilian service. The agency provides federal human resources policy, oversight and support, and tends to healthcare (FEHB) and life insurance (FEGLI) and retirement benefits (CSRS/FERS, but not TSP) for federal government employees, retirees and their dependents.
OPM is headed by a director, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Michael Rigas was appointed acting OPM director on March 18, 2020, succeeding Dale Cabaniss who resigned abruptly. In November 2020, Kiran Ahuja was named a member of the Joe Biden presidential transition Agency Review Team to support transition efforts related to the OPM.
The United States Civil Service Commission was created by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883. The commission was renamed as the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and most of commission's former functions - with the exception of the Federal employees appellate function - were assigned to new agencies, with most being assigned to the newly created U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on January 1, 1979, following the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978 (43 FR 36037, 92 Stat. 3783).
On March 4, 2019, President Donald Trump nominated Dale Cabaniss to be OPM director. Cabaniss was confirmed by a 54–38 vote in the Senate on September 11, 2019, began serving her term on September 16, and resigned on March 17, 2020 effective immediately. Michael Rigas was appointed acting director of OPM, moving from the General Services Administration (GSA).
Proposed merger with the General Services Administration
In June 2018, President Donald Trump proposed merging many of OPM‘s functions into the General Services Administration, as part of a larger initiative to restructure the executive branch. The proposal was criticized in Congress and was explicitly limited in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which was signed into law in December 2019; it bars any mergers by the President until the creation and submission of a report by the National Academy of Public Administration.
According to its website, the mission of the OPM is "recruiting, retaining and honoring a world-class force to serve the American people." The OPM is partially responsible for maintaining the appearance of independence and neutrality in the Administrative Law System. While technically employees of the agencies they work for, Administrative Law Judges (or ALJs) are hired exclusively by the OPM, effectively removing any discretionary employment procedures from the other agencies. The OPM uses a rigorous selection process which ranks the top three candidates for each ALJ vacancy, and then makes a selection from those candidates, generally giving preference to veterans.
The OPM is also responsible for a large part of the management of security clearances (National Background Investigations Bureau conducts these investigations) for the United States Government. With the exception of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which maintains its own system, separate programs for each executive department have gradually been merged into a single, Government-wide clearance system. The OPM is responsible for investigating individuals to give them Secret and Top Secret clearances. SCI compartments, however, are still managed by the particular agency that uses that compartment.
OPM is also responsible for federal employee retirement applications for FERS and CSRS employees. OPM makes decisions on federal employee regular and disability retirement cases. OPM also oversees FEHB and FEGLI, the health insurance and life insurance programs for Federal employees. However, it does not oversee TSP, which is handled by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), a separate independent agency.
The OPM revolving fund is described as the OPM's "fee for service" business that moves federal budget money from various federal agencies to the OPM for human resources (HR) services. During the decade from 2002 to 2012, the dollar amount of the fund has tripled. The fund is worth $2 billion, equivalent to almost all (90 percent) of the OPM budget.
In July 2013, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) introduced the Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Act. The bill would increase oversight of the fund. Farenthold introduced the bill as a response to accusations of fraud and concerns about security clearance background investigations. The bill would fund the expenses for investigations, oversight activities and audits from the revolving fund. In February 2014, President Obama signed the bill into law.
The fund's history goes back to the early 1980s, where it was used for two main activities: training and background investigations for government personnel.
2015 data breach
In June 2015, the Office of Personnel Management announced that it had discovered in April 2015 that it had been hacked more than a year earlier in a data breach, resulting in the theft of approximately 4 million personnel records handled by the office. The Washington Post has reported that the attack originated in China, citing unnamed government officials. By July 9, 2015 the estimate of stolen records had increased to 21.5 million, including those of current government personnel and people who had undergone background checks.
New updates regarding this security breach came to light on September 24, 2015. The agency then indicated that additional evidence showed that 5.6 million people's fingerprints were stolen as part of the hacks, more than five times the 1.1 million originally estimated. The total number of individuals whose records were disclosed in whole or part, including Social Security numbers and addresses, remained at 21.5 million.
Source: OPM's Agency Leadership Through Time
- Alan K. Campbell (January 2, 1979 – January 20, 1981)
- Campbell was the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission at its dissolution
- Donald J. Devine (March 23, 1981 – March 25, 1985)
- Loretta Cornelius (acting; 1985)
- Constance Horner (August 22, 1985 – May 10, 1989)
- Constance Berry Newman (June 8, 1989 – June 30, 1992)
- James B. King (April 7, 1993 – September 1, 1997)
- Janice R. Lachance (November 12, 1997 – January 20, 2001)
- Steven R. Cohen (acting; January 20, 2001 – July 11, 2001)
- Kay Coles James (July 11, 2001 – January 31, 2005)
- Dan G. Blair (acting; February 1, 2005 – June 27, 2005)
- Linda M. Springer (June 28, 2005 – August 13, 2008)
- Michael Hager (acting; 2008–2009)
- Kathie Ann Whipple (acting; 2009)
- John Berry (April 13, 2009 – April 13, 2013)
- Elaine Kaplan (acting; April 15, 2013 – October 31, 2013)
- Katherine Archuleta (November 4, 2013 – July 10, 2015)
- Beth Cobert (acting; July 10, 2015 to January 19, 2017)
- Kathleen McGettigan (acting; January 19, 2017 – March 9, 2018)
- Jeff Tien Han Pon (March 9, 2018 – October 5, 2018)
- Margaret Weichert (acting; October 5, 2018 – September 16, 2019)
- Dale Cabaniss (September 16, 2019 – March 17, 2020)
- Michael Rigas (acting; March 18, 2020 – present)
- Civil service
- Combined Federal Campaign
- Federal Labor Relations Authority
- Hatch Act
- Human Resources University
- Presidential Management Fellows Program
- Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- United States Merit Systems Protection Board
- Annual Performance Report (2017). p. 7
- "Our Mission, Role & History – What We Do". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- "Agency Review Teams". President-Elect Joe Biden. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
- "Glossary of Terms". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- Gayathri, Amrutha. "USIS That Vetted Snowden Under Investigation; Booz Allen Hamilton Overlooked Snowden Resume Discrepancies." International Business Times. June 21, 2013. Retrieved on July 1, 2013.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to a Key Administration Post". The White House. March 4, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "PN448 — Dale Cabaniss — Office of Personnel Management". Congress.gov. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "OPM Welcomes Director Dale Cabaniss as the Agency's 12th Director". OPM.gov. OPM Office of Communications. September 16, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Lippman, Daniel (March 17, 2020). "OPM chief Dale Cabaniss abruptly resigns". Politico. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
- "Trump reorganization plan may spell major changes for OPM". Federal News Network. June 19, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch" (PDF). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. March 16, 2017.
- "Congress Moves to Block OPM-GSA Merger". Government Executive. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "Congress to formally block OPM-GSA merger with defense authorization bill". Federal News Network. December 10, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "Remarks by President Trump at Signing Ceremony for S.1790, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020". The White House. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "Text of S. 1790: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Passed Congress version) - GovTrack.us". GovTrack. December 19, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- "Biography of an Ideal". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- "Audit of the Federal Investigations Servies' Case Review Process Over Background Investigations" (PDF). opm.gov. page 2. Retrieved June 6, 2014.CS1 maint: location (link)
- 7 MAR. "Retirement Info Center". Opm.gov. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- "Pamphlet" (PDF). opm.gov. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- berrylegal (December 11, 2016). "OPM Disability Retirement". Federal Employee Law Blog.
- Fact Sheet: OPM Revolving Fund, Products and Services. Avue Technologies Corporation. 2013-09-24 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- Reilly, Sean. "OPM inspector general getting more money for revolving fund oversight”. Federal Times. 2014-02-13 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- "OPM IG Act (H.R. 2860)”. GovTrack.us. (2014) (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- "OPM Inspector General Act signed into law”. Ripon Advance. 2014-02-17 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- "H.R.2860 OPM IG Act” The Week in Congress; Volume 10 Number 3. 2014-01-17 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- Carney, Jay (White House Press Secretary). "Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 2860, S. 1901”. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 2014-02-12 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- U.S. Government Accountability Office. "OPM's Revolving Fund Policy Should Be Clarified and Management Controls Strengthened”. GGD-84-23: Published: Oct 13, 1983. Publicly Released: Oct 13, 1983 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
- "Millions of US government workers hit by data breach". BBC News. June 5, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
- Sanders, Sam (June 4, 2015). "Massive Data Breach Puts 4 Million Federal Employees' Records At Risk". NPR.
- Zengerle, Patricia; Cassella, Megan (July 9, 2015). "Estimate of Americans hit by government personnel data hack skyrockets". Reuters. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
- Peterson, Andrea (September 24, 2015). "OPM says 5.6 million fingerprints stolen in biggest cyber attack in US history. America doesn't have anything together this is why this happened". Independent. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- "Agency Leadership". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- "Our Mission: Constance Horner". opm.gov. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- "James King". U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
- Rosenberg, Alyssa (August 1, 2008). "Bush taps new OPM director". National Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
- "Linda M. Springer Sworn In as New OPM Director" (Press release). United States Office of Personnel Management. June 29, 2005. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
- "White House Names Acting Director of OPM" (Press release). United States Office of Personnel Management. January 23, 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
- "OPM Director John Berry". United States Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
- "Kathleen McGettigan". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Yoder, Eric (October 5, 2018). "Trump replaces federal personnel director, in job only a few months, with OMB official". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- "Michael J. Rigas". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved March 18, 2020.