Washington, D.C.—The resignation of Director Kay Coles James of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a significant loss, the leader of the nation’s largest independent union of federal workers said today.
President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees (NTEU) called Director James “a forthright and honest public servant who showed respect for federal employees, their unions and the work they do.” She added: “While we did not always agree, it was a pleasure to work with her.” James announced her resignation today.
OPM is the federal government’s personnel operation and, as such, is central to ensuring that agencies have the tools they need to be competitive with the private sector in efforts to attract and retain high-quality employees.
NTEU worked well with Director James on a variety of important issues, President Kelley said, including the establishment and implementation in 2003 of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), a program long-sought by NTEU under which federal employees can set aside money on a pretax basis for certain medical and dependent care expenses.
A key factor in bringing that program to fruition, President Kelley said, was the “constant commitment and effort” on its behalf by Director James. In particular, the NTEU leader thanked James for her actions in urging agencies to pay FSA program administrative costs, thus saving federal employees additional money.
President Kelley also noted the important role that Director James played in the extensive process aimed at creating a new personnel system for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
She said the OPM director was very helpful in making sure that NTEU was able to participate in that process in a manner envisioned by the Homeland Security Act, which created the massive new department—and that DHS didn’t rush deliberations simply to have a package of changes in place.
“Director James brought skill and leadership to her position,” President Kelley said. “On behalf of NTEU, I thank her for her effective service and wish her well.”
As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents some 150,000 employees in 30 agencies and departments.