Senate committee advances Cabaniss’ nomination to be OPM director

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday easily advanced the nomination of Dale Cabaniss, the President’s pick to be the new director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Cabaniss’ nomination moved without debate, though three senators, including Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.), voted in opposition.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) also voted “no.”

The committee on Wednesday also moved the nomination for Michael Wooten, the President’s pick to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

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Both nominations will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

If confirmed, Cabaniss will be the second permanent OPM director in less than three years. She’ll replace Margaret Weichert, who has been serving concurrently as the agency’s acting director and permanent deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget for the past six months. Weichert temporarily replaced Jeff Pon, the administration’s first permanent OPM director. He left suddenly last October.

Cabaniss would lead OPM at a time of uncertainty and great transition. The Trump administration this week has been making the case for its proposed OPM reorganization, which would move most of the agency’s existing functions to the General Services Administration. The proposal also recommends building out OMB’s Office of Performance and Personnel Policy with three additional employees.

The American Federation of Government Employees late last week urged the committee to oppose Cabaniss’ nomination, citing employee engagement scores at the Federal Labor Relations Authority during her tenure at the agency as cause for concern.

The union also argued Cabaniss didn’t respect OPM’s mission, which AFGE said was especially alarming as the administration moves forward with its reorganization proposal.

“AFGE is working to defend OPM and to prevent this reckless action from going forward, but if some or all of the administration’s plan is carried out, to forestall  a worst-case-scenario outcome, it will be important to have a director of OPM who appreciates the merit system and the civil service,” Alethea Predeoux, AFGE’s legislative director, wrote in a May 7 letter to the Senate committee. “Dale Cabaniss’s record demonstrates that she does not have the requisite qualities to serve in such a capacity.”

Senate Democrats questioned Cabaniss last week during the committee’s nomination hearing about the administration’s OPM reorganization proposal and pressed for more information. But members seemed relatively unconcerned that Cabaniss, would, in fact, share more details with the committee if confirmed.

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