Donald Kettl: Proposed OPM Reorganization Could Lead to Legal Challenges

Jeff Brody

Legal challenges and implementation problems could emerge as a result of the potential merger of the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration, Nextgov reported Tuesday. Recently, the White House submitted a legislative proposal to Congress to reorganize OPM into GSA and establish a new office of federal workforce policy within the Office of Management and Budget. The office will be headed by a non-Senate confirmed appointee with the rulemaking authority.

“A search on the Code of Federal Regulations for ‘Office of Personnel Management’ reveals [more than 700 references] across 41 titles. So the question of the rulemaking fix required to attend to the administration’s proposal is huge,” said Donald Kettl, professor and academic director at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

Kettl also cited legal issues that could surface from regulations that could be introduced by the workforce policy director.

“Any effort to do so seems certain to generate legal challenges, which could well tie up the reorganization in court,” he said. “The simplest answer is [retaining an] OPM director as a figurehead. But that, in turn, raises the question of why go through all of this, without defining the basic problem to be solved and devising a strategy that seems most likely to solve it.”

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