President Donald Trump is expected to dissolve the Office of Personnel Management at some point during this summer, according to a report from the Washington Post.
What is the Office of Personnel Management?
The Office of Personnel Management works as sort of a massive human resources agency for the federal government. According to its website, “OPM directs human resources and employee management services, administers retirement benefits, manages healthcare and insurance programs, oversees merit-based and inclusive hiring into the civil service, and provides a secure employment process.”
In 2019, OPM had a self-declared total operating budget of $295,920,000.
Trump only recently appointed a new head to the agency, nominating Dale Cabaniss of Virginia on March 4.
What would happen?
The Washington Post reported that Trump plans to break up the agency into three sections, which would be absorbed by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget. Initially, all employees would be reassigned to one of these different sections, rather than being laid off. However, the total number of employees would be slowly reduced by not replacing those who retire or who leave due to other reasons. Currently, the agency employs 5,565 people.
The acting head of the agency, Margaret Weichert, called the move “a big, exemplary step,” according to the Washington Post. She said that the agency was “fundamentally not set up for success, structurally.”
Democrats like Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., spoke out strongly against this move, calling it executive overreach. However, as the Washington Post noted, both the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had considered dissolving the agency.
This could be a move to help shrink the overall size of the federal government. While Trump has spoken repeatedly about cutting federal spending, including asking members of his own cabinet in October to cut 5 percent of their budgets, spending has ballooned under his leadership.
Federal government spending during the first six months of this fiscal year was 13.7 percent higher than it was during former President Barack Obama’s final year in office. The federal budget deficit, the amount the government spends beyond what it takes in, for the first six months of the year came to $693 billion, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. It is expected to pass $1 trillion in 2020.
The federal budget deficit differs from the national debt, which is made up of each yearly deficit combined with accruing interest. The budget deficit itself resets at the start of each fiscal year. The current national debt is in excess of $22 trillion.