Trump Nominates HR Veteran for OPM

Jeff Tien Han Pon is President Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management, which oversees HR policies for the federal government’s two million-plus employees.

Pon currently serves as CHRO and strategy officer for the Society for Human Resource Management and was chief operating officer for Futures Inc., an organization that helps military veterans find civilian careers, reports Government Executive magazine. He’s also served as a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Trump had previously nominated George Nesterczuk to be OPM chief, a move that drew the ire of federal employee unions who objected to his role in implementing the National Security Personnel System, a failed attempt to introduce performance-based pay to the federal workforce during the George W. Bush administration. Nesterczuk withdrew from consideration in late July.

If confirmed, Pon will have his work cut out for him. The federal government’s personnel system has been widely derided as in dire need of fixing; in July, the National Academy of Public Administration released a report that dismissed piecemeal attempts to fix the civil service system in favor of a broad overhaul that would give individual federal agencies more flexibility over their processes for hiring, firing and promoting employees. Under this decentralized scenario, the OPM’s role in overseeing federal workers would likely diminish.

However, federal employee unions have expressed wariness toward the NAPA proposal, saying that it would undermine civil service protections for government workers. “Flexibility … is a common dog whistle for at-will employment,” union leader Lee Stone wrote in an email to the Washington Post.