New Emails Show GSA Involvement in the Trump Administration’s Plan to Abolish OPM
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 1, 2020)— Today, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry E. Connolly, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin, Committee Member Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton sent a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) demanding the GSA cease internal plans and operations to aid the Trump Administration’s plan to abolish the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and move its functions to GSA.
The GSA recently made the decision to rescind the Delegations of Authority and Interagency Agreement for Operations and Maintenance with the OPM for the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building in Washington, D.C. and the five-building Federal Executive Institute campus in Charlottesville, Virginia—despite the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 making this illegal.
“Any action to rescind OPM’s authority to operate its own buildings is a clear violation of this statutory provision,” the Members wrote. “According to your own budget submission, the rescission is a poor use of taxpayer dollars, which will cost OPM $2 million in higher rent costs in FY 2021. Yet, it appears that you still plan to revoke OPM’s operational authority over its own buildings effective October 1, 2020.”
According to internal GSA emails newly released by the Committee, the GSA’s intention to remove OPM’s building operation authority is part of the Administration’s proposed abolition of OPM. When OPM requested that GSA reconsider rescinding the building management and operational authority, GSA officials stated in these emails that the decision to rescind this authority included “a matter of philosophy” related to then Acting Director Margaret Weichert’s “Case for Change,” which was what she called her plan to abolish OPM.
“It appears you withheld critical information from Congress and continued to take actions prohibited by statute, demonstrating a flagrant disregard for congressional authority and the law,” the Members wrote. “We demand that you cease the planned rescission immediately. … Because you have continuously stonewalled our requests for information about the planned merger, we now request a transcribed interview with you by April 15, 2020.”
The Subcommittee on Government Operations held two hearings on the Administration’s attempts to abolish OPM, and the Subcommittee sent five letters to OMB, OPM, and GSA repeatedly asking for basic information on the need for the merger of OPM into GSA and the authority the Administration would use to accomplish it. To date, the Subcommittee has received no clear reasoning or analysis.
Click here to read today’s letter to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy.