The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Elaine D. Kaplan to become a federal judge, continuing a run of leadership turnover at the government’s central personnel agency.
Kaplan, the agency’s general counsel, has been filling in as the agency head since April, when John Berry’s term expired. He since has become the ambassador to Australia.
The deputy director position, which normally would be next in line with the directorship vacant, has itself been vacant since Christine Griffin left in July 2011 for a position with the Massachusetts state government.
Kaplan is to remain the acting director until she is sworn in as a judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims, although it is unclear both if she will stay at OPM until a new director is confirmed and who would become the next acting director if she doesn’t. That decision would be up to the White House.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in early August approved the nomination of Katherine Archuleta, a former top official with several federal agencies and the city of Denver, to lead OPM. However, the ranking Republican on that panel, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, immediately put a hold on her nomination out of dissatisfaction with the lack of information from OPM regarding the status of Capitol Hill staffers who will be forced out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program in January and required to obtain their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange system.
OPM soon afterward put out guidance clarifying which Capitol Hill employees are to be affected and stating that they—along with members of Congress, who also will have to get their insurance through the ACA, or Obamacare—will remain eligible for the government contribution toward premiums provided to enrollees in the FEHBP program.
Coburn then lifted the hold but the full Senate has not yet scheduled a confirmation vote for Archuleta.