Margaret Weichert, who was confirmed by the Senate to be the deputy director for management at OMB, will assume an added role as the acting director of OPM. The former agency head, Dr. Pon, unexpectedly stepped down last week after becoming the agency’s first confirmed director since 2015, when Katherine Archuleta resigned in regards to the massive data breach. Dr. Pon served his position for less than six months. In his sole press conference, he had toted a strategy of using legislative proposals, executive orders, and agency authority to modernize the landscape of service for federal employees.
In his tenure, an executive order aimed at countering labor unions was struck down by a federal judge in August and a letter from Dr. Pon to Congress outlining desired changes to federal employee benefits went virtually ignored. The correspondence requested the Senate propose laws that would terminate the social security supplements for FERS annuitants, alter pension calculations from a “high-3” to a “high-5,” increase worker contributions to 7.25% for new FERS hires, and eliminate COLAs. Waiting until an election year for such suggestions was probably the reason these recommendations received little to no traction.
The new sitting director Weichert, who praised by the head of OMB Mick Mulvaney, has reiterated similar goals to those of Dr. Pon and the current administration. Of those, a 2019 pay freeze and, in a broader sense, bringing federal benefits more “inline” with the private sector.
–Until Next Time,
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