When The Office returns, there’s a big problem

By KEN LEWIS, AP WriterWASHINGTON (AP) — The last time the office episode was broadcast, the Office of Personnel Management was in turmoil and a top executive was fired.

Now, it’s back.

But the show, which aired in the spring of 2007, may be too late for the most important job of the new administration.

The OPM is struggling to fill key positions, with fewer than half the top-level positions filled by senior executives.

The office episode, set to air on ABC on Wednesday, comes as the government is grappling with how to deal with a sharp drop in public-sector joblessness and a rise in the number of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed.

The Office of Management and Budget says it will start hiring again as early as next week, but the agency has struggled to fill a number of key jobs, including deputy heads of public works, the head of the EPA, the chief financial officer and the chief information officer.

The show also offers an insider view of how the administration has responded to public-service layoffs, with the president and chief of staff John Kelly addressing a crowd of workers in May as they announced the reopening of public schools.