Blair Becomes Acting OPM Director

Dan Blair became acting director of OPM effective Feb. 1, 2005.

The man that helped design the current Federal Employees Retirement System that has received international attention as a potential model for the Bush administration’s plan to overhaul the nation’s Social Security program is now the acting director for the Office of Personnel Management.

Office of Personnel Management Deputy Director Dan G. Blair officially took over as acting director at OPM effective Feb. 1, 2005 as the resignation of former Director Kay Coles James became official.

“I look forward to working with the dedicated and professional staff at OPM as we continue the momentum and build on the progress made under the leadership of former director Kay James, while laying the groundwork for the future leadership of this agency and the American civil service,” Blair said.

Blair was nominated by President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, 2001 to serve as deputy director of OPM. Prior to his confirmation, Blair had served as senior policy advisor to James since October 2001.

Federal statute states that upon the departure of the agency head, the deputy director automatically becomes acting director of OPM until a permanent director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Blair was unanimously confirmed as OPM deputy director on Feb. 13, 2002. Prior to that, he served 17 years on the House and Senate Committees which oversaw the civil service.

Blair also served as minority general counsel for the House of Representatives Committee on Post Office and Civil Service from January 1985 until December 1994. While in that position, he was responsible for helping design FERS and for developing legislative initiatives reforming the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. He also developed legislation establishing a living benefits program for employees and retirees covered by the federal government life insurance program.

Prior to joining the staff at OPM, Blair served as senior counsel to Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) on the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. He was appointed to this position in January 1998 and was responsible for review of legislation and policy affecting the federal civil service, the U.S. Postal Service, federal budget process, government ethics, and federal lobbying reform.

He served as the principal Governmental Affairs Committee staffer on the House and Senate conference committee charged with developing a new personnel system for the Internal Revenue Service as part of the overall IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. He also advised Sen. Thompson on the comprehensive review the Committee on Governmental Affairs undertook to reform the process by which Presidential nominees undergo appointment and Senate confirmation.

Further, Blair was responsible for committee work establishing a long-term care insurance program for federal employees and the uniformed services and reforms for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and life insurance programs.

He was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. He received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981 and his Juris Doctor from the School of Law at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1984. He and his wife, Michele, reside in Washington D.C.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47