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New GAO Report Recommends Better Political Conversion Tracking

In a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it was found that a number of federal agencies approved political conversions without also getting approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - which is required for these changes.

“Conversion” is the term used when a political appointee position is converted into a career position, and out of the 69 conversions studied in the GAO report, 17 moved forward without the approval of OPM.

Conversions are also cited as “burrowing in” – when a political appointee then maintains a role in the federal government after the administration leaves offices – and is a controversial change and hot-button topic on Capitol Hill.  Under the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015, OPM is required to report the number of conversions to Congress at different times through the year.

Political conversions at 30 agencies were looked at for this report, between Jan. 1, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2015. Out of the 17 approved without OPM’s input, post-appointment reviews were given to 13 employees, resulting in nine approvals and four denials.

Additionally, OPM is tasked with tracking conversion reporting through its Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) system, and the report recommended that OPM establish a process for agencies to verify and correct political conversion data, as well as conversions not receiving OPM approval.

“OPM currently does not seek from agencies verification of the data OPM has already collected to correct any data discrepancies," the report said. “Having agency verified data could help OPM more quickly identify conversions agencies implemented without OPM approval, thus helping to achieve better compliance with OPM’s stated policy.”

Posted in General News

Tags: OPM, career development, GAO, Government Accountability Office

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