GAO Doesn’t Sound Wild About the OPM Reorg Plan

May 22, 2019 2:59 PM , Updated June 3, 2019 7:02 AM
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A new report from the Government Accountability Office says that the agencies involved in the Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize the Office of Personnel Management have more work to do to put together a successful plan.

This is what GAO had to say about the plan in its report summary:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and General Services Administration (GSA) have generally not addressed key practices for agency reform efforts as they have moved forward with their proposal to reorganize OPM. They have not established outcome- oriented goals, developed a cost-benefit analysis or implementation plans, and have not fully involved or communicated their efforts with the Congress, employees, and other key stakeholders. OPM and GSA also have not shown how they will address management challenges that may affect their ability to successfully reorganize the government’s central human capital functions.

OMB, OPM and GSA have not identified specific actions, as of May 17, 2019, that can be taken administratively versus those that will require legislative action to reorganize OPM. The administration has acknowledged the need for additional statutory authority to execute certain transfers of functions from OPM to GSA and the Executive Offices of the President (EOP), but has also stated that it will rely on existing authority to move certain functions administratively. Without additional information from OMB and agencies, GAO cannot assess the legal authorities the administration is relying on to implement the reorganization.

As to what is missing, the GAO report said that GSA had only provided one document so far outlining some preliminary goals and measures of the proposed merger, but GAO said, “this document focuses only on the goals and measures related to the transfer of human resources solutions from OPM to GSA, rather than on the entire reform proposal. In addition, that document explicitly states that it is not a cost-benefit analysis, and OMB staff have told us that they have not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the reform.”

GAO said that in order for the project to be successful, it has found in working with other organizational transformations that establishing a clear mission and goals yields the best results.

It’s possible more information along the lines of what GAO says is needed will be forthcoming, but the report noted they hadn’t appeared yet. Throughout the report, it kept referencing “as of May 17, 2019” the agencies hadn’t provided any of the information GAO cited.

GAO Report on Proposed OPM Reorganization

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.