Republican Intransigence Leaves the OPM Rudderless

Written by SK Ashby

Beth Cobert was nominated to become the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in November of last year and she has served as the acting director ever since, but every decision she has made as the acting director since November is "void" according to Inspector General Patrick McFarland.

This is cutting it quite close to ridiculous.

McFarland argues that a recent decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the law, effectively narrowing the conditions under which a nominee may serve in an interim capacity.

Specifically, the ruling states that a nominee may only fulfill the position on an acting basis if that person has served as “first assistant” to the office for at least 90 days. Cobert came to the OPM directly from a role as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

For their part, the White House and the Justice Department disagree with the court and the inspector general and have asked the full 4th Circuit Court to rehear the case en banc.

In the meantime, it's not clear how many decisions handed down by the now-former director of OPM may need to be reissued by a new acting director if all other decisions made since last November are void.

None of this would be a concern if Congressional Republicans got off their asses and confirmed a permanent director for the Office of Personnel Management.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee finally confirmed Beth Cobert a couple weeks ago, but the full Senate has yet to vote. It's not as if the Senate has other important businesses to attend to. As you know, Congressional Republicans have decided not to release a budget or begin the appropriations process so there's not much else on their plate at the moment.