Cabaniss previously served as chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority during the George W. Bush administration. Most recently, she served as the Republican staff director for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government for eight years. She left that position in April, according to her LinkedIn page.
Cabaniss worked for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in the mid-1990s.
If confirmed, she’ll replace Margaret Weichert, who has been juggling two jobs as both the OPM acting director and the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget for the past five months.
Cabaniss would also be the second permanent OPM director in just two years during the Trump administration. Weichert replaced Jeff Pon, who left the agency after just seven months as permanent director. Pon’s departure largely came as a surprise to OPM employees at the time, many of whom learned of the shakeup from the media.
Weichert and the Office of Management and Budget have been strong advocates for efforts to modernize the federal workforce as described in the President’s Management Agenda. She’s also largely been the spokesperson for OMB’s plan to reorganize large swaths of government, including OPM.
OMB in June proposed a major reorganization of OPM, including a move of the agency’s federal personnel policy offices to the Executive Office of the President. The proposals questioned OPM’s track record as the federal government’s central personnel entity and raised further questions about the agency’s future.
“NTEU believes the Office of Personnel Management should remain an independent, central personnel agency outside of the Executive Office of the President, and if Dale Cabaniss is confirmed as OPM director, we hope she will help maintain the current organizational structure that allows OPM to protect the professional, merit-based civil service from partisan manipulation,” Tony Reardon, the union’s president, said in a statement.
OPM has experienced its fair share of leadership shakeups and has been without permanent leadership off and on for several years. Pon waited for nearly six months before Congress agreed to set aside their differences over a politically-driven disagreement with an Affordable Care Act decision the agency made five years ago.
Trump’s first pick to lead OPM, George Nesterczuk, never got a nomination hearing and withdrew his name from consideration, in part because the vetting process was too long. Federal employee unions had also publicly questioned his background.
Beth Cobert, who stepped in to lead the agency through the crisis of multiple cyber breaches, was never permanently confirmed — again, because of OPM’s prior Affordable Care Act determination. Cobert replaced Katherine Archuleta, who resigned in the aftermath of the breaches.
Michael Rigas, OPM’s current deputy director, was the agency’s first in five years.