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Lawmakers call for change as OPM head leaves post

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(The Center Square) – The head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced her resignation this week, reupping lawmakers’ calls for changes at the agency, which has been a major player in implementing pro-union and pro-DEI policies across the federal government.

Director Kiran Ahuja announced she would step down “in the next several weeks” after leading since her Senate confirmation in 2021.

“Serving in the Biden-Harris Administration, and in support of the 2.2 million federal workers who dedicate themselves to the American people, has been the honor of my life,” Ahuja said in a statement. “We have accomplished so much these last three years at OPM…”

Those accomplishments include implementing a $15 minimum wage for federal workers, issuing a final rule that blocks federal agencies from asking new hires about their criminal records, and creating a the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility as well as a DEI council for the entire federal government.

Key points of criticism of the agency have been a billions of wasted taxpayer dollars through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program as well as a lack of accountability around teleworking policies and whether they are being abused by federal employees.

“Under Director Ahuja, OPM is more like the Office of Personnel Mismanagement. During our hearing earlier this Congress on OPM, Director Ahuja was unable to answer basic questions regarding the number of federal employees who were teleworking,” House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement. “And one of the last actions by OPM while she was director was to push out a final rule shielding federal workers from accountability.”

OPM has also been under fire recently for its blatant efforts to help public unions grow their influence at taxpayer expense.

As The Center Square previously reported, OPM took down a long-standing OPM accountability site for public unions. That site over the years tracked “official time,” a practice when federal employees use taxpayer-funded hours to do union work.

OPM has tracked the practice to help prevent abuse and, as a result, misuse of taxpayer dollars. Last year that site was taken down and will not be replaced. In a letter to Congress, OPM defended its decision, saying it does keep the latest official time report on its website and that it is not legally obligated to keep the accountability tracking going.

OPM has not conducted a review of official time since President Joe Biden took office.

“The next OPM director must show more commitment to putting the interests of the American people before those of federal employee unions,” Comer added.

Notably, Acting Department of Labor Secretary Julie Su has been able to receive Senate confirmation. Whether a new OPM head can pass that test remains to be seen.

“OPM wants to be considered the federal government’s human resources agency, but under Director Ahuja, OPM has shown a lack of interest in acting like it,” Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said in a statement. “It does not have a handle on key issues like telework or the amount of union official time occurring in agencies. Rather, her tenure has been marked by a continual stream of policies intended to further entrench federal employee unions and shield civil servants from accountability. The next OPM director must do better.”

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