Threat of furloughs & layoffs looms at OPM

Published on June 20, 2019

Ricardo J.A. Pitts-Wiley, partner at the Federal Practice Group, discusses the possibility of furloughs at the Office of Personnel Management, and how they are being used as “a weapon.”

The Office of Personnel Management is at a major crossroads. Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert warned Congress that if the agency’s merger with the General Services Administration isn’t approved, 150 employees would be furloughed, and potentially laid off in the fall. Ricardo J.A. Pitts-Wiley, partner at the Federal Practice Group, says that this furlough would be very different to any that came before it.

“A furlough is supposed to be a placement of an employee in a temporary non-work or non-duty status, for the purpose of addressing some lack of work, lack of funding or some other type of non-disciplinary matter…” Pitts-Wiley said. “What is different about what is going on right now is that one, this is a furlough that is being proposed not necessarily by OPM, but by the administration. And the furlough is being provided in the context not addressing some temporary concern, whether it be a lack of work or funding, but really it is being used as a weapon to try and negotiate for the dismantling and discontinuation of the Office of Personnel Management.”