What’s Behind the OPM-GSA Merger
As a concerted effort, the Trump Administration’s plan to merge the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the General Services Administration’s (GSA) will work together to modernize IT systems and technology. This merger is an attempt to overhaul antiquated processes and convert legacy systems into more sustainable resources across agencies.
While the measure has not yet received full funding, the Administration continues to stress the need for structural and organizational change at OPM. The unsustainable status quo is ill-equipped to meet the needs of a modern workforce. In pursuit of structural reform to better align resources with the mission, the Administration plans to create long-term stability along with increased operational excellence.
In a recent statement, acting OPM Director Magaret Weichert said, “The time to address structural changes at OPM is now, and GSA is helping us meet the needs of the federal workforce.” She went on to say, the aging IT infrastructure at OPM has put the agency in an unsustainable position and threatens the agency’s critical human capital mission.
In the current legislative session, the Senate joined the House and selected not to provide funding for the consolidation of OPM and GSA in the appropriations bill for fiscal 2020. With continued support for the merger, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee with the request to consider future funding.
While the Senate didn’t entirely reject the merger in the Financial Services and General Government funding bill, the committee report noted it would not allocate the administration’s fund request. The bill fails to provide funding for GSA’s Working Capital Fund to support the transition of OPM functions to GSA. The report also indicates, if authorized legislation is enacted that transfers functions to GSA, the committee stands ready to provide sufficient resources to GSA to facilitate an orderly transition.
As we wait for the official authorization for the OPM and GSA merger, there is still the interagency agreement tool that can be used to collaborate between two agencies. Also known as memorandums of understanding (MOU), these interagency agreements are required under the Workforce Investment Act to perform and identify agencies, authority, and actions for the agreement. Like a contract, the agreement states the exact work to be accomplished, a cost estimate, and the funds required to complete the work.
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