The Office of Personnel Management has a broad plan to reinvigorate the agency and implement a long series of recommendations from the National Academy of Public Administration, which argued in March that the federal government’s human capital firm had need “urgent attention”.
The OPM has accepted or conditionally accepted almost all of the academy’s recommendations. He had six months to respond to the NAPA report and submit his findings and plans to Congress, which he did on Monday.
A steering committee made up of senior OPM officials, as well as seven agency staff working groups, analyzed the NAPA recommendations and developed ways to respond to them. The agency also sought comments from the Bureau of Management and Budget, General Service Administration and its client agencies, OPM said.
The groups have met on several occasions to develop “scenario-based action plans,” which detail the actions, owners and resources needed to implement the NAPA recommendations, the OPM said.
These details informed OPM’s new four-strategy plan, as well as a series of high-level estimates of the resources the agency considers necessary to implement the recommendations.
“The NAPA study unequivocally affirms the need for a strong, independent and adequately resourced MPO,” Kiran Ahuja, director of the agency, said in a statement on Monday. “Our response demonstrates our broad agreement and deep commitment to the findings of the study, as well as our commitment to many of the policy changes and financial investments that it foresees for OPM to continue to serve as a unique and indispensable partner for them. federal agencies and their strategic human resources. capital needs.
“Taken together, the NAPA study and our response show a clear path for OPM to do its job, now and in the future,” she added.
The OPM “strongly agrees” with the role of NAPA described in its report, that of serving as an independent and forward-looking human capital agency and custodian of the principles of the merit system.
In some cases, OPM has said it has already started implementing the academy’s recommendations.
NAPA, for example, recommended a stronger role for the Council of Human Capital Directors, whose influence had collapsed during the confusion over the previous administration’s proposed OPM-GSA merger.
The OPM regained control of the board and reinstated monthly meetings earlier this year. He also created an executive committee to strengthen the panel, and the CHCOs formed working groups on the future of work, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility – and the organization of the board. , the agency announced on Monday.
The OPM is also currently evaluating its own internal capacity, with the aim of potentially reorganizing the agency to better implement its four-year strategic vision. The four-year strategic plan will go into effect in October, the OPM said, and it details several ways the agency will respond and act on several NAPA recommendations.
For example, the agency “tackles issues of organizational culture and silos – in particular, the widely held customer perception that OPM’s mantra is” just say no, “” the response to Congress read. .
The OPM is also expanding and prioritizing its role by conducting more research on human capital management and collecting better data on the federal workforce, among others.
However, implementing other NAPA recommendations will require resources and attention from Congress.
The agency, for example, detailed a comprehensive vision for its IT modernization, which includes everything from improving the quality of federal human capital data to improving retirement customer service, to transforming USAJobs.gov and moving the OPM website to a cloud-hosted platform.
The OPM classified IT modernization resources as a “very high” investment, which it estimated at $ 50 million or more over a two-year period. The agency also wants to establish an IT working capital and tap into the resources of the Technology Modernization Fund to start some investments, OPM said.
The agency also agreed that it should offer more training, policy interpretation and other free programs to its clients, another recommendation from NAPA.
The agency said it envisions a “seamless customer and intermediary experience across OPM’s policy, service and oversight functions.” It wishes to offer a variety of strategic technical assistance, consultancy and other services to help agencies better interpret and implement the workforce policies it publishes.
But because the OPM relies in part on the service fees it collects today, the agency will need additional credits to replace lost revenue, according to the report. OPM offers some services free of charge today.
To expand these free service offerings, OPM estimated a “moderate to high” investment of $ 10-20 million over a two-year period.
Notably, OPM also agreed that it might be wise to give individual agencies more authority over their own staff transactions. NAPA recommended giving agencies control over things like dual pay waivers and early retirement approvals, as examples.
The OPM could relinquish control of some transactional activities, the agency said, but perhaps not all. This could allow OPM to take more of a ‘trust but verify’ approach, where it delegates specific low risk activities to others and checks that agencies are using these authorities correctly on a regular basis.
The OPM also believes that Congress should grant the OPM the power to delegate these powers rather than delegating directly to agencies through legislation, so that the OPM retains oversight responsibility to maintain a consistent approach. government-wide, ”the response to Congress indicated.
NAPA made a handful of recommendations to Congress itself. He suggested, for example, that House and Senate oversight committees re-establish specific civil service subcommittees to better monitor the federal workforce.
He also recommended that Congress make some statutory updates to modernize the OPM’s mission statement and work with the agency to secure new funding streams and other investments.
House Oversight and Reform Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) and government operations subcommittee chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) Did not comment on the specific recommendations of the House. NAPA and OPM’s plans to implement them. They did, however, express their support for the agency.
“Today’s OPM report shows that the OPM and the Biden administration are dedicated to its federal workforce,” Connolly said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with OPM and the administration to rebuild OPM and design the workforce we need to serve this nation.”