United States Office of Personnel Management

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United States Office of Personnel Management
Seal of the United States Office of Personnel Management.svg
Official seal
Agency overview
FormedJanuary 1, 1979; 43 years ago (1979-01-01)
Preceding agency
JurisdictionU.S. federal government
HeadquartersTheodore Roosevelt Federal Building
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C., US
Employees2,448 (2021)[1]
Annual budget$329,755,000 (2021)
Agency executive

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.[2]

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. On March 25, 2020, Rigas was concurrently appointed acting deputy director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.[3] 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.[4] On the day of his Inauguration on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden announced[5] that the chief management officer, Kathleen McGettigan, would be acting director.[6] The current director, Kiran Ahuja, was sworn in on June 24, 2021.[7]


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, and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978

On 1 January 1979, the Office of Personnel Management was established with the dissolution of the U.S. Civil Service Commission following the passage and signing of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 into law by President Jimmy Carter (D). (43 FR 36037, 92 Stat. 3783).[8]

In 1996 the investigation branch of the OPM was privatized, and USIS was formed.[9]

2015 data breach[edit]

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.[10] The Washington Post has reported that the attack originated in China, citing unnamed government officials.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Attempts at Reform[edit]

In July 2013, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) introduced the Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Act.[14] The bill would increase oversight of OPM's revolving fund. Farenthold introduced the bill as a response to accusations of fraud and concerns about security clearance background investigations.[15] The bill would fund the expenses for investigations, oversight activities and audits from the revolving fund.[16] The bill was in response to a find that between 2002 and 2012, OPM's revolving fund had tripled, totaling over $2 billion, or 90% of OPM's budget. In February 2014, President Obama signed the bill into law.[17][18] 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.[19]

Between 2018 and 2019, as part of a larger initiative to restructure the executive branch, President Donald Trump (R) submitted a proposal to congress to merge OPM into the General Services Administration (GSA) while returning the federal personnel policy-making components under the direct authority of the Executive office of the President via the White House Office of Management and Budget. House Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations under the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, was the fiercest critic of the proposal. During a congressional hearing, Connolly claimed: "The administration wants to take over the merit policy-making functions and put them into the highly politicized environment of the White House itself, away from direct congressional oversight and inspector general review." Political pressure against the proposal peaked when a provision barring the President from transferring any function, responsibility, authority, service, system or program that is assigned in law until 6 months after the completion of an "independent report" issued by the federally-chartered National Academy of Public Administration was added to the 1,120 page bill S-1790, a.k.a the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.[20][21][22][23]


According to its website, the mission of the OPM is "recruiting, retaining and honoring a world-class force to serve the American people."[24] 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.

OPM is also responsible for federal employee retirement applications for FERS and CSRS employees.[25] OPM makes decisions on federal employee regular[26] and disability retirement cases.[27] 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.


  • Retirement Services - Oversees the Civil Service Retirement Service (CSRS) and the Federal Employee Retirement Service (FERS).
  • Healthcare & Insurance - Oversees the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) programs.
  • Employee Services Branch
  • Human Resources Branch

Directors of OPM[edit]

Source: OPM's Agency Leadership Through Time[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Annual Performance Report (2021). p. 7
  2. ^ "Our Mission, Role & History – What We Do". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  3. ^ OPM’s Rigas to take on second position as OMB acting deputy
  4. ^ "Agency Review Teams". President-Elect Joe Biden. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  5. ^ Bur, Jessie (January 20, 2021). "McGettigan to once again take up temporary personnel leadership". Federal Times. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "Pres. Biden looks to put a hold on any midnight regulations from the Trump administration". Federal News Network. January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Twitter https://twitter.com/usopm/status/1408076914099638273. Retrieved June 26, 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Glossary of Terms". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Millions of US government workers hit by data breach". BBC News. June 5, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Sanders, Sam (June 4, 2015). "Massive Data Breach Puts 4 Million Federal Employees' Records At Risk". NPR.
  12. ^ Zengerle, Patricia; Cassella, Megan (July 9, 2015). "Estimate of Americans hit by government personnel data hack skyrockets". Reuters. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "OPM IG Act (H.R. 2860)”. GovTrack.us. (2014) (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
  15. ^ "OPM Inspector General Act signed into law”. Ripon Advance. 2014-02-17 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
  16. ^ "H.R.2860 OPM IG Act” The Week in Congress; Volume 10 Number 3. 2014-01-17 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
  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)
  18. ^ Reilly, Sean. "OPM inspector general getting more money for revolving fund oversight”. Federal Times. 2014-02-13 (Retrieved 2014-02-17)
  19. ^ 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)
  20. ^ "Congress Moves to Block OPM-GSA Merger". Government Executive. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  21. ^ "Congress to formally block OPM-GSA merger with defense authorization bill". Federal News Network. December 10, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  22. ^ "Remarks by President Trump at Signing Ceremony for S.1790, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved January 3, 2020 – via National Archives.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "Biography of an Ideal". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  25. ^ 7 MAR. "Retirement Info Center". Opm.gov. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  26. ^ "Pamphlet" (PDF). opm.gov. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  27. ^ berrylegal (December 11, 2016). "OPM Disability Retirement". Federal Employee Law Blog.
  28. ^ "Agency Leadership". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  29. ^ "Our Mission: Constance Horner". opm.gov. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  30. ^ "James King". U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
  31. ^ a b Rosenberg, Alyssa (August 1, 2008). "Bush taps new OPM director". National Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  32. ^ "Linda M. Springer Sworn In as New OPM Director" (Press release). United States Office of Personnel Management. June 29, 2005. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  33. ^ "White House Names Acting Director of OPM" (Press release). United States Office of Personnel Management. January 23, 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  34. ^ "OPM Director John Berry". United States Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  35. ^ "Kathleen McGettigan". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "OPM Welcomes Director Dale Cabaniss as the Agency's 12th Director". OPM.gov. OPM Office of Communications. September 16, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  38. ^ Lippman, Daniel (March 17, 2020). "OPM chief Dale Cabaniss abruptly resigns". Politico. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  39. ^ "Michael J. Rigas". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  40. ^ "Kathleen McGettigan". U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  41. ^ Bur, Jessie (January 20, 2021). "McGettigan to once again take up temporary personnel leadership". Federal Times. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  42. ^ "Pres. Biden looks to puts a hold on any midnight regulations from the Trump administration". Federal News Network. January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  43. ^ "Here's Who Is Leading Federal Agencies as Biden Nominees Await Confirmation". Government Executive. Retrieved January 23, 2021.

External links[edit]