Fellows Program Glitches at OPM

Two lawmakers are asking the Office of Personnel Management to explain recent problems with the administration of the Presidential Management Fellows program, and questioning whether such problems are indicative of larger IT failures within OPM.

A letter sent last week to OPM Director John Berry, Reps. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Dennis Ross, chairman of the federal workforce subcommittee, cited concerns with OPM's management of the PMF program and the uncertainty it has caused PMF applicants.

On Jan. 23, for example, OPM mistakenly sent 300 semifinalists, who had not qualified as finalists, emails congratulating them on their acceptance, and later sent follow-up emails apologizing for the mishap. The lawmakers also cited similar problems in late 2011, when OPM sent out blank emails to applicants and OPM's online assessment tool for qualified applicants was unavailable.

"Such sentiments are not only representative of the frustration and disappointment applicants experienced; they also negatively impact the federal government's ability to recruit future fellows and ultimately, our ability to serve the American people," the lawmakers wrote.

Issa and Ross said they are worried other OPM programs, particularly with the retirement modernization program and the overhaul of USAJobs.gov, are susceptible to IT problems.

"These technology issues come a year after OPM increased the 'appointment reimbursement fee' it charges other agencies to $7,000 per fellow hired," the lawmakers wrote. "The committee assumed that the revenue generated from these increased intergovernmental transfers could have gone towards the prevention of the above mentioned problems."

Have you been impacted by these IT glitches in any way, whether through the PMF program, retirement modernization, USAJobs.gov or another program?