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Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is an independent agency of the United States government that is tasked with the oversight of civil service hirings. 

The OPM, which was created in 1979 to replace the U.S. Civil Service Commission, is tasked with ensuring that the hiring of civil servants is based on merit and managing administrative law. The OPM also conducts security checks for secret and top-secret clearance. The OPM performs these duties for almost all government agencies, excepting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The OPM is about 90 percent funded through a revolving fund based on the service fees of the various agencies for which it provides human resources (HR) functions. The OPM hires and manages administrative law judges (ALJ) who make rulings on HR claims and perform legislative-like rule-making for the agencies the OPM serves. ALJs are technically employees of the agencies they perform HR functions for, although they are hired by the OPM.

In June of 2015, it was revealed that the OPM had been hacked a year prior, resulting in the theft of over 21.5 million personnel records including sensitive information including Social Security Numbers, addresses and 5.6 million including finger prints. The compromise of government-held private data was one of the largest of its kind. The severity and duration of the breach also called into question the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security’s EINSTEIN intrusion prevention system.

This was last updated in November 2016

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