Common sense and semantics would suggest that an office of personnel management for the federal government workforce would have a major say in the management of how federal employees are rated, ranked and hired for federal employment. Well, meet the deadbeat dad of federal service, OPM, the Office of Personnel Management. OPM has walked away, has abandoned its responsibility to ensure that federal agencies are following any uniformed practices in the hiring and managing of their workforces. There have been many GAO and Congressional investigations into why the federal workforce has increasingly taken on the appearance of day laborers picked up at the local 7/11 over the last couple decades, but at the core of OPM’s failure and dereliction of duty is their self-professed and bizarre boast that the other federal agencies are their customers, their clients, their shareholders and that OPM must respond to their customer needs. I thought government fundamentally served it citizens, not itself, nor does it have any business dressing up in private sector drag.
To be fair to OPM, Congress and the Executive Branch has encouraged this mentality to develop by having OPM’s budget be partially based on payment for their services to other agencies. This situation has led OPM to outsource its arguably most important function to its customers , the rating, ranking and hiring of federal employees. In effect, OPM has washed its hands of any responsibility for the arrival of a new employee in the federal workforce.
True OPM is still involved in the background check process but even that has been recently rocked by contractor scandal, and the fact that that very process is now compromised by the financial stick that the customer agency can now use on OPM makes the federal background investigation problematic and open to coercion and corruption on many levels, as seen in the recent reports of investigator fraud and malfeasance.
One only has to read OPM’s mission statements over the last several years to see that OPM’s primary objective if it can be defined by any one thing is to keep its customer agencies happy. OPM has created, in effect, a situation that deadbeat dads everywhere would marvel at its audacity, not only has it abandoned its responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the hiring process in the federal workforce, it has figured out a way for it to be paid for staying away!
Below is a quote from a standard OPM response to complaints from government employees about misconduct and outright fraud and corruption taking place across government agencies in regard to hiring practices:
“OPM has granted hiring authority to each individual Agency, and it is their responsibility to ensure that the process is applied appropriately. Federal Agencies have broad authority and discretion in carrying out their personnel programs. This includes developing and
applying rating criteria, rating and ranking applicants and selecting candidates to fill their positions.”
Consequently, the potential for corruption to take over the hiring process in the individual agencies is enormous, and has, in fact, taken place in many agencies and departments within the federal government since OPM has abandoned its paternal responsibilities. Just ask former ICE intelligence head James Woosley now part of the federal correctional ‘personnel’ system.
No wonder the former head of OPM’s Policy Analysis branch is reported to have broken down in tears when informed of the fate of some federal employees who attempted to report to OPM’s OPR their individual agencies’ flagrantly corrupt hiring practices only to have their complaints eventually refered back to the officials within the agencies responsible for the corrupt hiring.