Trump nominates 30-year government veteran to be new OPM director

President Donald Trump finally has a long-awaited choice to fill a key position in the federal government that oversees everything from federal employee pay and benefit programs, recruitment and hiring efforts and even snow closure decisions.

Trump nominated George Nesterczuk, a 30-year government veteran, to be the new director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Nesterczuk has a variety of government experience, including time spent in Congress. Most notably, he spent two years during the George W. Bush administration as the senior adviser to the OPM director of Defense Department issues, where he led efforts to establish the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) at DoD.

He was the staff director for the Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on civil service in the House of the Representatives from 1995 to 2000.

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Nesterczuk held multiple senior positions during the Reagan administration at OPM, DoD and the Transportation Department. According to his bio at the Leadership Institute, where he’s listed as a volunteer faculty member, Nesterczuk managed the Senior Executive Service, governmentwide training activities, equal employment opportunity and labor management relations. He also helped develop and implement pay-for-performance management systems.

Former OPM Deputy Director Dan Blair described Nesterczuk as one with a “broad and deep knowledge” of OPM and civil service issues.

“He’s very well suited for the job,” Blair said. “He did an excellent job representing merit systems interest in devising the regulations establishing NSPS. He is well respected within OPM and DoD.”

Nesterczuk leads his own management consulting company, Nesterczuk and Associates, where he most recently advised the Ukrainian government on public sector reforms.

He also has a background in science. Nesterczuk previously served as the science and technology adviser to the secretary during his tenure at the Transportation Department. He earned a degree in physics from Cornell University and a master’s degree in astrophysics from the University of Maryland.

“George is a great choice,” said John Marshall, president of the Shared Services Leadership Coalition and a former chief information officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development. “He really knows the content and challenges. He’s a deeply substantive difference maker.”

If confirmed, Nesterczuk has a tough job to fill. In addition to labor management relations and governmentwide cybersecurity workforce decisions, the agency’s director also oversees security clearances and suitability standards, as the new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) falls under OPM’s purview.

“He’s coming into an agency that is in need of clear and decisive leadership,” Blair said. “There has been benign neglect for leadership. [Former acting OPM Director] Beth Cobert did a marvelous job, but she was not there long enough. I hope George can restore the agency to what it needs to be.”

And the agency is just beginning to rebuild the trust it lost after hackers stole personally identifiable information for nearly 22 million people from OPM’s networks in two separate cyber breaches.

Nesterczuk will also play a key role in the Trump administration’s efforts to reorganize government and restructure the federal workforce.

“He brings obvious strengths and knowledge to the position that are critically needed at a time when Congress and the public are calling for greater accountability and performance from the federal government,” Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, said. “We believe that his experience in Congress and with the Department of Defense and Office of Personnel Management working on the National Security Personnel System will help inform larger civil service reform efforts that the Trump Administration is launching.”

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hear from Nesterczuk during his nomination hearing.

Lawmakers will likely push for the new OPM director to display more transparency in his dealings with Congress, a point that members reiterated during former acting Director Beth Cobert’s nomination hearing to be the agency’s permanent leader.

In February, leadership on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Nesterczuk’s former committee, urged Trump to quickly nominate a new director to lead the agency. In their letter, lawmakers said the new director should be “fully accountable [and] one who can provide the expertise, direction and management necessary.”

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