National Association of Government Contractors

Merger of OPM and GSA Will Face Legal Challenge

The proposed Administrative Services Merger Act of 2019 -- the Trump administration's legislative proposal  that was sent to lawmakers would eliminate the Office of Personnel Management as an independent entity and move that agency's functions to the General Services Administration -- a move some fear could take years to implement.
 The proposed legislation would authorize the transfer of OPM’s information technology, its fee-for-service HR Solutions, retirement and health and insurance services to GSA.
"GSA will create a new personnel service to house the human resources and employee lifecycle management shared service offerings," Russell Vought, OMB’s acting director, wrote in a May 16 letter to House and Senate leadership. "Agencies will benefit from GSA helping them to obtain more strategic and comprehensive support for their needs."
The move could lead to years of implementation issues and legal challenges, before the initiative could begin achieving supporters' stated goals.
The White House's plan to merge most of OPM's functions with the General Services Administration and create an Office of Federal Workforce Policy at the Office of Management and Budget includes a provision that places the existing OPM director's regulatory and rulemaking authority in a non-Senate confirmed position within OMB.
The decision to place rulemaking authority with a non-Senate confirmed political appointee could be unprecedented, although Congress seems unlikely to move forward with the idea. The White House, in its legislative proposal, suggested that despite the authority being placed within OMB, GSA likely would do most of the work on any regulatory changes.
"This section also transfers OPM's rulemaking authority to the Office of Management and Budget, to allow the new Office of Federal Workforce Policy to assume a policy leadership role," the White House stated. "By delegation and in practice, GSA will conduct the significant majority of this rulemaking."
Such an arrangement could lead to legal challenges to any regulation put forward by the White House. If enacted such legislation would almost be certain to generate legal challenges, which could well tie up implementation of any reorganization in court.

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