OPM-GSA merger scuttled in House approps bill

The Financial Services and General Government appropriation, which includes a pay raise for civilian feds, passed its subcommittee and will be voted on by the full committee.

U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock)

The Financial Services and General Government appropriation was reported favorably out of subcommittee on a party-line voice vote late on June 3 and will be taken up by the full House Appropriations Committee.

The bill includes $35 million for the Technology Modernization Fund and cuts funding for the federal CIO office from $28.5 million to $15 million.

The bill notably does not contain any of the funding requested by the White House to merge most of the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration, and includes language designed to stop work on planning for such a merger and to scuttle efforts to unify aspects of OPM and GSA administratively via outsourcing or interagency agreements.

Administration supporters on Capitol Hill aren't optimistic about a bill to bring the two agencies together.

"I don't see any legislative fix that's going to happen to allow OPM and GSA to merge," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told FCW. "To suggest that that's a fight that will ultimately be accomplished by legislative means would be to deny the reality of the divided Congress."

Election security funding gets a boost with $600 million in grants to help states replace direct-recording electronic voting machines -- systems that tally votes into a computer without issuing a paper ballot. The Election Assistance Commission, which administers the grants, also gets an uptick in funding.

"If anything, the challenge of securing our election systems should be a uniting force among Americans," Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), chairman of the subcommittee, said at the markup.

The bill also covers the Treasury Department and IRS. The tax agency is tabbed to receive $12 billion for fiscal year 2020, including will get $290 million for business systems modernization.

"These increases are particularly important to secure sensitive data housed at the IRS," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee.

The bill also funds a 3.1% raise for civilian federal employees and extends federal employment to individuals covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program launched by the Obama administration. The DACA program gives legal residency status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors by their parents.

The Senate has yet to release its drafts of funding bills for fiscal year 2020.

This article was updated June 4 with additional material.

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