Scope of the Position:

The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the leader of the agency that oversees almost all aspects of federal employment policy for the millions of employees across all governmental agencies, bureaus, and branches. OPM handles a wide variety of employment-related policies, such as pension benefits for retired employees and the frontline hiring of new personnel into the workforce. It also offers administrative training and leadership development opportunities. As of FY 2017, OPM has requested $321.2 million in discretionary funding. 

Illustrative Management Challenges:

USAJOBS Overhaul

In 2015, Former Director Katherine Archuleta announced OPM's intent to improve the federal job opportunity site USAJOBS.1 The decision came as part of a new agency initiative known as REDI (Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion), an effort aimed at increasing the ability of USAJOBS to "work as a customer service provider to federal agencies and boost data-driven decision making." This initiative follow an overwhelmingly negative response from the experience of job applicants with the previous website.2 According to the website's program manager, "the USAJOBS updates are part of an ongoing process ... and will continue beyond 2016."3

Information Hack of 2015

OPM announced a series a cyber breaches beginning in March 2015 that spanned several months.4 It is estimated that over 20 million social security numbers were stolen from background investigation databases.5 Victims of the cyberattack were offered at no charge full service identity restoration support and victim recovery assistance, along with identity theft insurance, identity monitoring for minor children, and continuous credit monitoring for a period of at least 3 years. The breach was highly controversial and led to the resignation of former Director Katherine Archuleta in July 2015.6 In light of the attack, Acting OPM Director Beth Colbert has prioritized increased security efforts to protect against future theft. In the aftermath of the breach, there have been plans for a new agency, the National Background Investigations Bureau, to manage security clearances and suitability investigations.7

Retiring Workforce

As the federal workforce continues to age and enter retirement, there is a need to ensure that new hires who replace the outgoing workers are educated and up to the tasks that will be required of them. Specifically, the future of the federal workforce will depend on hiring and maintaining a technologically literate workforce, something the OPM Director must commit to achieving.


      1How the Government Plans to Revamp USAJOBS and Make Federal Service 'Hip';; March 9, 2015.
      2OPM responds to USAJOBS complaints;; November 3, 2011.
      3OPM Unveils Overhaul of Federal Hiring Site USAJOBS;; February 24, 2016.
      4Many victims of OPM background investigation files theft still not notified;; June 27, 2016.
      5OPM: 21.5 Million Social Security Numbers Stolen From Government Computers;, July 9; 2015.
      6One Year After OPM Data Breach, What Has the Government Learned?;; June 6, 2016.
      7New federal office will take the lead on background checks;; January 27; 2016.

OPM Directors:

Directors of the Office of Personnel Management are skilled in fast-paced, high-level management, as evidenced by their prior experience in senior management roles in federal agencies, such as Chief of Staff, COO, and General Counsel. Many former OPM Directors possess a background in law.

Current Incumbent:

Beth Cobert (Acting) (2015-present): Prior to assuming her current appointment, Cobert served as the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget and as the U.S. Chief Performance Officer with OPM. She spent almost 30 years with McKinsey & Company, where she served as Director and Senior Partner.

Previous Deputy Secretaries:

Katherine Archuleta (2013-2015): Archuleta is currently the Principal of KDJK Strategies and the founder and Principal of the Latino Data Project. Her previous positions have consisted of National Political Director of President Obama's 2012 Presidential campaign, Chief of Staff with the U.S. Department of Labor, and a Senior Policy Advisor in the Denver Mayor's Office.

Elaine Kaplan (Acting) (2013): Kaplan is currently a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Prior to her appointment as Acting OPM Director, she served as the General Counsel for OPM. Judge Kaplan's previous posts include time in the Solicitor's Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, an attorney at the National Treasury Employees Union, a five-year term as the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, counsel at Bernabei and Katz, and as a member of the adjunct faculty of American University's School of Public Affairs. Kaplan earned her JD from Georgetown University.

John Berry (2009-2013): Berry is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia. Berry's previous positions included Director of the National Zoo; Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget with the Department of the Interior (where he also acted as the CFO and COO); Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor at the Smithsonian Institution, and Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement with the Department of the Treasury.

Kathie Ann Whipple (Acting) (2009): Whipple currently serves as the Deputy General Counsel for OPM. She previously served as Acting General Counsel for OPM. Prior to her time at OPM, Whipple held positions as a Trial Attorney with the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and as an Assistant Attorney General in the New York City Litigation Bureau in the office of the New York Attorney General. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Michael Hager (Acting) (2008-2009): Hager currently acts as an independent consultant in the field of human resources. His previous positions included Executive Vice President of Peoples Bancorp, Senior Fellow at George Mason University, Senior Consultant with Enterprise Resource Performance, Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Associate Deputy of Administration and Capital Access with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and positions at Freddie Mac, the Russell Corporation, and Banc One Corporation.

Linda M. Springer (2005-2008): Prior to her appointment as OPM Director, Springer served as Controller and head of the Office of Federal Financial Management at OMB, where she set and oversaw implementation across all agencies and departments of financial management policies and disciplines. Before her career in public service, Springer held positions as Senior Vice President and Controller at Provident Mutual and Vice President and Product Manager at Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Kay Cole James (2001-2005): James currently is the President of the Gloucester Institute, which she founded. Her previous positions included Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the White House, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Senior Fellow and Director of The Citizenship Project at the Heritage Foundation, Dean of Regent University, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of One to One Partnership, and Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the State of Virginia.

Janice R. Lachance (1997-2001): Lachance is currently serving as the Interim President of the Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust. Her previous positions included Interim President and CEO of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals; CEO of the Special Libraries Association; Deputy Director, Chief of Staff, and Director of Communications for the Office of Personnel Management; and Director of Communications and Political Affairs with the American Federation of Government. She received her JD from Tulane University Law School.

James B. King (1993-1997): In addition to serving as OPM Director, King served as the Chair of the National Partnership Council, a member of President Clinton's Management Council, and a member of President Clinton's Commission on White House Fellows. Prior to his time in the Clinton Administration, King was appointed to the National Transportation Safety Board and worked as a Special Assistant to President Jimmy Carter. King has also held the positions of Associate Vice President at Harvard University and Senior Vice President at Northeastern University.

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