Trump taps HUD appointee to be new OPM director

The Trump administration will tap a fourth person to lead the Office of Personnel Management in a little more than three years.

President Donald Trump on Monday announced his plans to nominate John Gibbs, a political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to be the new permanent OPM director.

Gibbs has been at HUD for more than three years, where he currently serves as the acting assistant secretary for community planning and development. Gibbs oversees an $8 billion HUD budget for homelessness, community development and disaster relief programs.

According to the White House statement on his upcoming nomination, he “led the successful deployment of more than $9 billion in CARES Act funds in response to coronavirus.”

Before joining HUD, Gibbs was a software developer in Silicon Valley and led non-profit teams in Japan, according to the White House. It appears he has little direct federal personnel experience.

If confirmed, Gibbs will replace Michael Rigas, who’s currently juggling two positions as both the OPM acting director and the acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

Rigas took on the OPM role after Dale Cabaniss, OPM’s second permanent director, suddenly resigned back in March. Cabaniss was on the job for six short months, where she reportedly received poor treatment from White House staff. She also butted heads with the Office of Management and Budget over OPM’s role during the coronavirus pandemic and the administration’s proposed General Services Administration merger.

The administration has expressed a continued desire to see the OPM-GSA merger move forward, even though Congress has effectively put such moves on hold.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are also investigating whether OPM political appointees misled Congress over the perceived legal authorities needed to implement the merger.

OPM, meanwhile, has witnessed a dizzying number of key personnel changes within the last three years. Gibbs, if confirmed, would be the third permanent director to lead the agency in as many years.

Trump’s first OPM nominee was George Nesterczuk, who never got a nomination hearing and withdrew his name from consideration because the vetting process took too long. He joined OPM earlier this year as a senior adviser in the director’s office.

The president’s second nominee, Jeff Pon, was confirmed back in March 2018. He too butted heads with the administration over the OPM-GSA merger and was fired after seven months as the agency’s director.

Other key OPM roles have seen a fair share of turnover within the last three years, as career executives have retired or left for other federal agencies.

Political appointees have recently filled a few of the positions that career executives left vacant.

Dennis Kirk, another Trump appointee, is heading up a key OPM policy shop. His nomination to lead the still-vacant Merit Systems Protection Board has been pending before the Senate for more than a year.

Sara Ratcliff, the former executive director of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, returned to OPM earlier this year as the new associate director for HR Solutions.

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