Former Deputy OMB Director Beth Cobert is leading the charge on reform at the Office of Personnel Management. Following the resignation of director Katherine Archuleta, Cobert has spoken with congressional leaders about the way forward for OPM.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, told In Depth with Francis Rose that he’s pleasantly surprised by the outreach efforts.
“It’s very rare in Washington, D.C. to see not only a proactive approach, reaching out to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, but really a dedication to the federal workforce that came across in her energy, her tenacity, her willingness to ask the tough questions, but more importantly, find a real solution,” Meadows said.
Meadows said that he’s looking to work with Cobert to pass new cybersecurity measures through Congress
“Based on what I felt was a sincere effort on her part, I was willing to invest the political capital on my end to make sure she had the response and the needed resources to get the job done,” he said.
Meadows said he expects bipartisan support for reform at OPM. although he cautioned against throwing money at the problem.
“This is a prime example,” he said. “We spend over $100 billion a year in IT, and yet we didn’t even encrypt the personal information of many of our federal workers…. If there’s a real plan, even with additional resources needed, I think the votes will be there, and I think they will be there in an overwhelming fashion.”
The Senate, however, has yet to confirm retired Navy Rear Adm. Earl Gay as deputy director at OPM. As a senior adviser to Archuleta since 2013, some fear his confirmation would mean business as usual at the agency.
“It’s very difficult for me to weigh in on what the Senate should or should not do,” Meadows said. “The litmus test for me comes back to, will he advance the agenda? Is his reputation tarnished where perhaps he can’t do that? Or can he speak to that particular issue to give our federal workforce assurance?”