Through a new report drafted and disguised as collaboration among stakeholders, including employee unions, corporate interests are pushing policy makers to abolish the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and contract out the agency’s important personnel functions.
The new report entitled "Recommendations to Congress and the Administration, Transforming the Governance of Federal Human Capital Management, Creating Capacity to Enable Effective Change" was issued July 16 by the Senior Executives Association (SEA) and Center for Organizational Excellence (COE). It offers 3 recommendations and 16 actions.
The 120-page report, released as another organization is embarking on a congressionally mandated study on the merger of the OPM and the General Services Administration (GSA), is chock full of controversial statements and false claims, including, “All have agreed that civil service modernization is necessary but is (sic) has not been accomplished due to a lack of capacity.”
But before discussing the content of the report – recommendations to abolish OPM cloaked in vague corporate doublespeak – let’s review some facts about it and how it came about.
- The report was paid for by commercial interests, whose names were not even disclosed until the report was in final stages and ready for publication. Among the sponsors were Grant Thornton and allegedly Deloitte whose businesses provide human resources, consulting, and information technology services.
- It’s full of corporate doublespeak to obscure the report’s real goal: get policy makers to abolish or severely downsize OPM and contract out its unique functions to these commercial interests who wrote the bulk of the report.
- It promotes the administration’s effort to dissolve most of the central personnel agency, politicize the career service, and destroy the pay and benefits programs that protect the civil service from the corruption of politics and discrimination.
- The report is an opaque attempt to influence the outcome of a congressionally mandated study by National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on a proposed merger of OPM with GSA. Listed as “contributors” of the report were the NAPA president and a NAPA study fellow.
- The organizers invited HR-related organizations, including labor unions, to the meetings but never sought their input – only a small group of people were involved in drafting the report. But the names of people who attended a one-day meeting, and by association their organizations, were listed as “Contributors” even though many had never seen the draft report and its recommendations before its release. (After AFGE forcefully challenged this characterization, the report changed the status of the “Contributors” to “Working Group Participants.”) None of the report's specific recommendations was discussed or shared during the one-day session.
- The organizers never sought input from AFGE, the largest union representing federal workers who would be affected the most by the recommendations. Yet an AFGE representative was listed as a “contributor.” Several others listed as “contributors” were equally dismayed by the mischaracterization of their “involvement” – or lack thereof. Our representative – Senior Policy Counselor Richard Loeb subsequently asked that his name be withdrawn from the report.
- The report’s recommendations go against everything our union believes in. It’s an attempt to “do over” the administration’s failed attempt in May last year to convince Congress to abolish OPM.
Read Loeb’s full letter to SEA and COE here.
You may think that your audience, "Congress and the administration" will see your report as a thoughtful and considered review of federal human capital practices with genuine input and recommendations from a variety of sources, but no one will be fooled,” Loeb wrote to SEA and COE. “It is nothing but a dishonest attempt to promote the administration's effort to abolish OPM and politicize the career civil service, and simultaneously destroy the pay and benefits programs that protect the civil service from the corruption of politics and discrimination.
The Trump administration wants to dismantle OPM and politicize the civil service – and they are setting OPM up to fail. Instead of contracting out work from OPM, enriching contractors, and destroying our civil service, we ought to take that same money and make the needed investments in OPM so government workers have the resources and infrastructure needed to perform our duties effectively.