OPM’s inspector general to resign

Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Patrick McFarland has announced his resignation.

He’s stepping down after his tenure as the longest serving presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed inspector general, McFarland wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to President Barack Obama.

McFarland’s resignation is effective Feb. 19.

Deputy IG Nobert Vint will step in as acting OPM inspector general until the President names a permanent replacement.

“Mr. Vint has been invaluable at each and every critical decision that the office has faced,” McFarland wrote. “He is a superlative executive. I respectfully ask that you consider nominating him to become the next OPM Inspector General.”

McFarland also praised Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert, who will testify Thursday as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee considers her nomination to be the permanent director.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Inspector General Patrick E. McFarland testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on federal Cybersecurity and the OPM Data Breach.
Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Patrick McFarland testifies on Capital Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015 before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the OPM data breach and cybersecurity.

“She seems to be arduously striving to institute high standards of professionalism as she works to reinvigorate this great agency,” he wrote. “However, she cannot achieve the goals she has set for herself and for OPM without a permanent and independent Inspector General who will tell her the unvarnished truth about any shortcomings the OIG may discover.”

Cobert said she enjoyed collaborating with McFarland since she assumed the position of acting director less than a year ago.

“I met with Pat on my first day at OPM, and I know he has an unfailing commitment to this agency and to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of OPM’s operations,” Cobert said in a statement.  “OPM values greatly the mission of the IG, and the role Pat has played, in providing input and oversight of OPM services and programs.  Pat’s leadership and contributions to this agency and its directors over the past 25 years have been a tremendous asset to OPM and the federal government.”

McFarland’s office has been behind several high-profile cases, particularly a series of reports that found faults with the first credit monitoring contract OPM awarded in the wake of multiple cyber breaches at the agency.

As McFarland began his investigations into the OPM cyber breaches over the summer, he also publicly questioned his agency’s chief information officer. He issued a formal complaint about the lack of cooperation he and his auditors received from CIO Donna Seymour.

McFarland said he was pleased with the balance his office achieved with OPM leadership, which the Senate asked him to describe during his nomination hearing more than 25 years ago.

“I intended to build a professional relationship that fosters cooperation, but which at the same time, recognizes that the Inspector General’s legal and primary responsibility is to search for wrongdoing,” he wrote. “Both of these elements — independence and cooperation — are essential to the success of any OIG.”

McFarland’s resignation comes days after David Williams, the inspector general at the U.S. Postal Service, announced his own intention to leave government.