OPM Director John Berry to leave when term expires

John Berry will not be returning as director of the Office of Personnel Management when his term expires in nine days.

Industry sources tell Federal News Radio, Berry informed the Chief Human Capital Officers Council Wednesday of his intentions not to stay on as director of OPM.

An OPM spokesman would not confirm Berry’s decision and said the agency had no personnel announcements at this time.

An email to Berry seeking comment on his status was not returned.

Under Section 1102 of Title V of the U.S. Code, the OPM director is limited to a four-year term. The Senate approved Berry to be OPM director on April 3, 2009, and he officially was sworn in on April 13, which means his term will come to an end on April 13, 2013.

John Berry, director, OPM

The White House could nominate him, or for that matter any OPM director, for a second term. But, it seems unlikely that will happen.

The Washington Post reported last month Berry may be in line to be the next Ambassador to Australia.

If Berry indeed leaves on or about April 13, OPM would be without its top two leaders. The agency hasn’t had a deputy director since Christine Griffin left in August 2011.

It’s unclear who would take over in an acting capacity.

During the transition from the President George W. Bush administration to the President Barack Obama administration, Kathie Ann Whipple, OPM’s deputy general counsel, served as acting administrator.

Government Executive first reported news of Berry’s term expiration.

During Berry’s tenure, he took on some of the most challenging aspects of federal human resources management.

According to data on Performance.gov, the OPM-led effort to reduce hiring times for new employees was down to, on average, 109 days in fiscal 2011. OPM has not yet posted 2012 data.

Berry also tried to improve the Senior Executive Service, including how members are brought into the fold and the performance appraisal system used to assess their successes.

He also focused the agency on addressing the retirement claims backlog by putting more people and management oversight into the effort after three failed technology programs.

But the biggest, and maybe most impactful, part of Berry’s job has been to play cheerleader, motivator and staunchest defender of the federal workforce during a three-year pay freeze, a hiring freeze across most agencies, and in the face of constant attacks by some members of Congress.

Berry follows several former OPM directors to have stayed for four years.


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