Trump’s Dangerous Plan to Abolish OPM

Categories: OPM, The Insider

Our union strongly opposes President Trump’s plan to have the General Services Administration (GSA) acquire the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and move personnel policy to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Buried deep in the 2020 budget proposal, the plan would designate OMB as responsible for policy decisions in areas such as employee compensation, workforce supply and demand, and employee performance. The remainder of OPM would be moved into GSA.

Here’s why Trump’s plan for OPM is so dangerous:

1. It would destroy the merit system.

A merit-based civil service system is a cornerstone of all modern Western democracies. It ensures that technical expertise is brought to bear on performing agency missions without the threat of overt partisan agendas driving day-to-day operations. OPM’s roots are in the Civil Service Commission, which dates all the way back to the 1883 Pendleton Act, a law designed to end the “spoils system” of government appointments and pay where political supporters, family and friends were rewarded with civil service jobs. Federal employment should be based only on skills, qualifications, and experience.

2. It would politicize personnel policy.

OMB is an arm of the White House, which is inherently political. If OMB, which produces the President’s budget, is responsible for personnel policy, then pay, benefits, and virtually every other aspect of federal employment would be subject to the political whims of those crafting the president’s budget proposal. The results would be disastrous, forcing federal employees into a fight for the pay and benefits they’ve earned every time an administration decides they want to free up money for a pet political project.

3. It would diminish the importance of having a centralized personnel office.

Moving the bulk of OPM’s personnel operations to GSA shows a willful disdain for the importance of civil service employees. Having a strong centralized civil service agency, based on merit-system principles, is essential to the apolitical civil service. Trump’s plan is a significant departure from these principles and diminishes the important role of a centralized personnel office in the executive branch.

4. There isn’t enough information.

Because the administration has not shared information about how these changes could affect jobs, we simply don’t yet know what the impact would be on federal employees. It’s irresponsible and dangerous to move ahead with these planned changes without a thorough understanding of how this proposal would affect our federal employees’ livelihoods.

Join us and fight back

If you are a federal employee and have not joined our union, join us today and push back against this kind of attack on our civil service system.


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