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OPM nominee pledges to ease federal employment frustrations

Ronald Reagan is credited with saying, "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Some government officials have actually been known to use that as a humorous opening to talks they give and we are sure it elicits chuckles – even they're uncomfortable.

For federal workers, the one official they most likely hope will help is the director of the Office of Personnel Management. As the human resources manager of the U.S. government, the OPM's mission is to provide "high-quality services that protect and strengthen the merit system of government." It also oversees health and retirement benefit programs for the federal workforce, including dealing with appeals of denied benefit and disability claims.

We have the technology

Every transition in administration brings changes and OPM is not immune from the upheaval. The man nominated to head up OPM under the Trump administration is currently going through the Senate confirmation process. A vote to advance the nomination of Jeff Pon had been slated for last month, but is on hold, apparently by politics.

However, during a confirmation hearing Oct. 18, Pon told senators that one of his goals in office would be to reduce the time it takes agencies to fill empty positions. He also said he wants to speed up payments to retired workers and to those entitled to benefits guaranteed by law and employment agreements.

Pon acknowledged that current lag times on benefits processing are unacceptable. He suggested they exist because the government hasn't committed to leveraging technology that already exists in the private sector to speed up the efficient handling of necessary data. At the same time, Pon committed to ensuring information security to avoid breaches like the one that occurred in 2015.

The National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association welcomes Pon's comments and endorses his nomination. However, when a vote might occur remains a mystery.

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