OPM director James to step down

Office of Personnel Management director Kay Coles James will leave her job at month's end.

"I have been privileged to lead the American civil service during a period of great change, especially after the horrific events of Sept. 11," James said in a statement yesterday. "I have had the opportunity over the past three and a half years to lead a civil service team that worked hard to elevate performance and results over outdated systems through President Bush's Management Agenda."

OPM's deputy director Dan Blair will serve as interim director until a new director takes over.

James did not say what she plans to do next. But she did say that she will "look for opportunities that allow me to maintain a voice on national policy discussions while participating in private and nonprofit solutions designed to improve the lives of fellow citizens and further meaningful reforms."

Some have speculated that James might run for Virginia governor or another high-profile job in the state. Before joining OPM, she was Virginia's secretary for health and human resources under former Gov. George Allen.

During the last four years, James has overseen some major IT initiatives at OPM, including five Quicksilver e-government projects to upgrade federal hiring, recruitment, retention and retirement systems.

She led the move to transfer all personnel files to electronic format and have OPM perform background checks on 90 to 95 percent of all federal employees.

During her tenure, though, OPM also suffered through a handful of contracting miscues from the protest and eventual recompete of the Recruitment One-Stop deal to having to pull the E-Learning procurement at the last minute after language in the request for proposals too closely mirrored language on an incumbent vendor's Web site.

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