Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: OPM personnel changes, Tangherlini gets more than 210 days

Welcome to my new feature, “Inside the Reporter’s Notebook,” where every two weeks I’ll dispatch news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary — it’s news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at jpmiller@federalnewsradio.com.


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The Office of Personnel Management is shuffling some chairs, starting with the chief information officer.

Government sources familiar with OPM say chief information officer Matt Perry has been reassigned, and a job posting to replace him on USAJobs.gov is imminent.

In an interesting move, OPM Director John Berry moved Perry, who was CIO at OPM for about three years, to run the IT systems for the retirement services and federal investigative services organizations.

Sources say Perry’s move is one of several personnel changes Berry is expected to make in the coming weeks. The source didn’t know the details of the other chairs Berry plans to shuffle.

An OPM spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the agency doesn’t discuss personnel issues. Sources say Perry was told the director wanted to bring someone new in to the position. Perry replaced Janet Barnes in 2010. Barnes had been the OPM CIO for almost a decade previously.

Charles Simpson, the deputy CIO, now is acting CIO for OPM.

Along with the change at the CIO level, Nancy Kichak, an associate director for the human resources policy division, retired at the end of January. Berry replaced her with Joe Kennedy, who was the principal associate director for OPM’s Employee Services and the agency’s chief learning officer.

He worked on formulating and implementing human capital management strategies and policies, including playing a significant role in developing guidelines and standards that are used to assess the government’s performance on human capital management.

Kichak was the associate director for almost eight years and oversaw the development and implementation of merit-based HR policies. She worked on hiring reforms, developing new approaches to bring people into the Senior Executive Service and creating and updating career paths, specifically around cybersecurity, for the government.

Dan Tangherlini has been the acting administrator at the General Services Administration since April — roughly 320 days — well beyond the typical 210 days that most acting political appointees are allowed to be in their position for.

But Tangherlini and his appointment on April 3, 2012 is far from typical.

A senior administration official said Tangherlini’s appointment doesn’t fall under 5 USC § 3346, which limits the number of days someone can be in an acting position to 210.

“Dan was designated as acting administrator under 40 USC § 302, which permits the President to designate an officer of the federal government to serve as acting administrator and does not have a 210-day limitation on service,” the official said by email.

Under this part of the law, Tangherlini can remain acting administrator indefinitely.

The senior official said, “an acting to serve unless a statute ‘expressly authorizes the President…to designate an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of a specified office temporarily in an acting capacity…’ The statute establishing the deputy administrator of GSA – 40 USC § 302 – is precisely such a statute. In relevant part, it states that ‘The deputy administrator is acting administrator of General Services during the absence or disability of the administrator and, unless the President designates another officer of the federal government, when the office of administrator is vacant.’ As Dan Tangherlini is a Senate confirmed officer of the federal government, the President designated him under this authority to serve as acting administrator.”

The question then begs, when will the White House nominate Tangherlini to be the administrator?

Many observers have said the White House had to finish with the nominations for Defense, Treasury, CIA and other bigger named agencies. But, as it seems to always come back to, why doesn’t the White House understand the value GSA brings to the government, Western Regions Conference aside?

The seven years that the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) — sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and current Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) — has been in place has been less than stellar. The law required OMB to post data on procurements, grants and loans to a public website.

USASpending.gov’s biggest challenge has been the data.

Danny Werfel, the Office of Management and Budget’s controller, said recently at the Association of Government Accountants conference in Washington that a new policy is coming to address data quality issues with the USASpending portal.

Werfel said OMB will require agencies to match the data in their internal financial systems with the information in USASpending.gov.

That long has been a major flaw in USASpending.gov — data in agency financial management systems are not in harmony with information in USASpending.gov. This has caused confusion among industry and agencies, and exasperated Congress.

Lawmakers introduced a follow-on bill in 2008, and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Mark Warner, (D-Va.), pushed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) during the last Congress as second generation of FFATA to improve how agencies track spending and identify and stop waste, fraud and abuse. Issa, the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Warner have yet to introduce it again this session.

The White House didn’t support the DATA Act because it felt the administration already had the necessary authority to make spending more transparent under FFATA.

This latest guidance is one step to doing that. Werfel said by improving the data on USASpending.gov it would address this longstanding problem, and improve trust in government.

Out and about: Next week the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is quite busy with three important hearings. First, it’s holding one on the IT Reform Act on Wednesday. Among those testifying are Richard Spires, Homeland Security Department CIO, and Dan Gordon, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

The committee is expecting busy week with two more hearings: one on federal travel spending and another on real property disposal — Congressman John Mica’s (R-Fla.) first in his new committee.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee just announced a hearing on the latest problems with the joint electronic health record system under development by the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.

Beyond the House, the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday will consider the nomination of David Medine to be chairman and a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

AFCEA is holding its annual Homeland Security Conference in Washington. Meanwhile, the Bethesda, Md. chapter is holding a breakfast on moving to shared services.