OMB Deputy Director Weichert to Wear Two Hats as She Replaces OPM Director Pon
Late last week, in a surprising shake-up within the Trump administration, it was announced that U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Jeff Pon would be unexpectedly vacating his post, with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert being tapped by President Trump to fill in as Pon’s replacement, on top of her existing duties at OMB.
Pon was confirmed as the 11th OPM director in March, with the interim seven months marked by a flurry of activity in support of recent government reform and modernization efforts.
Pon’s efforts were largely praised by good government advocacy organizations and his departure was generally unexpected, in light of OPM’s recent activity in implementing reform proposals. According to Federal News Network, the news came “as a surprised to employees at the agency,” with e-mail at the agency down for most of the weekend and employees often learning “of the leadership change through reporters’ tweets or inquiries.”
“This came as a surprise,” one spokesman bluntly stated on Friday.
The announcement also coincides with recent administration plans to reshape the federal landscape OPM inhabits, with a pending proposal in the works to fold major elements of OPM into OMB and the General Services Administration (GSA).
For observers familiar with the ebb and flow of agency leadership, the announcement was disappointingly familiar. As noted by Federal News Network’s Nicole Ogrysko, “OPM has been without permanent leadership off and on for several years. Pon waited for nearly six months before Congress agreed to set aside their differences over a politically-driven disagreement with an Affordable Care Act decision the agency made five years ago” and confirm him.
Similarly, the first Trump selection to lead OPM, George Nesterczuk, “never got a nomination hearing and withdrew his name from consideration, in part because the vetting process was too long,” while former acting OPM Director Beth Cobert was also never permanently confirmed, “again, because of OPM’s prior Affordable Care Act determination.”
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