Kiran Ahuja to Step Down as OPM Director After Nearly 3 Years

Kiran Ahuja, the longest-serving OPM director in a decade, resigns due to personal reasons, leaving a legacy of implementing key initiatives and championing federal employee interests, despite facing criticism from conservative lawmakers.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Kiran Ahuja to Step Down as OPM Director After Nearly 3 Years

Kiran Ahuja to Step Down as OPM Director After Nearly 3 Years

Kiran Ahuja, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), has announced her resignation from the Biden administration. Ahuja, who has led the agency since her Senate confirmation in 2021, will be stepping down from her position in early May due to personal reasons, including an ongoing health concern and a recent death in the family.

During her tenure, Ahuja oversaw the implementation of several key initiatives, such as rules to prevent a revival of the Trump administration's "Schedule F" policies, a $15 minimum wage for federal employees, and revamped rules for government internships and early career programs. She also worked to empower federal agencies, reset relationships with national union partners, uphold the merit-based civil service, and renew the government's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

Why this matters: Ahuja's departure is seen as a significant loss for the Biden administration, as she was viewed as a steady hand needed to rebuild trust with federal employee unions and champion the interests of the 2.2 million federal workers. Her leadership and commitment to DEIA have faced scrutiny from conservative lawmakers in Congress.

Ahuja's accomplishments include positioning the federal government as a model employer, helping thousands of talented individuals join government service, and reinforcing OPM's role as a strategic partner for federal agencies. She was the first South Asian and first Asian American woman to lead the agency, and her nearly three-year tenure marked the longest for an OPM director in over a decade.

However, the agency has faced criticism from lawmakers, post including House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer and Government Operations and the Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Pete Sessions, over its efforts to further entrench federal employee unions and shield civil servants from accountability. The lawmakers have called for the next OPM director to show more commitment to the interests of the American people over those of federal employee unions.

Deputy Director Rob Shriver will assume acting duties upon Ahuja's director, departure. Shriver praised Ahuja's "incredible legacy as a strong and indefatigable champion of the 2.2 million public servants in the federal workforce" and said that under her leadership, "OPM has bounced back stronger than ever and partnered with agencies across government to better serve the American people."

Key Takeaways

  • Kiran Ahuja, OPM director, resigns due to personal reasons, including health and family.
  • Ahuja oversaw key initiatives like preventing "Schedule F" policies and raising federal minimum wage.
  • Ahuja's departure is seen as a significant loss for the Biden administration.
  • Ahuja was the first South Asian and Asian American woman to lead the OPM.
  • Lawmakers have criticized OPM's efforts to empower federal employee unions under Ahuja.