President Donald Trump just made it easier to weed out certain unelected federal employees working in policy-related jobs by cutting back some of their workplace protections. The president issued an executive order that makes it easier to hire – and fire – federal bureaucrats in a move meant to “increase accountability for Federal employees who make substantive contributions to executive branch policy.”
BizPacReview The order, issued earlier this week, gives federal agencies “more flexibility” in holding employees accountable but is being denounced by critics who fear it is politicizing civil servants.
Supporters of the president have frequently pointed to the existence of some career officials referred to as the “deep state,” who continue to be employed in the long-running jobs even as administrations turn over. The White House noted that Trump’s order will allow federal agencies to remove “poor performers” from roles in an easier process while introducing a new classification within the federal workforce called “Schedule F” employees.
“To empower our civil servants to best help others, the government must always operate more efficiently and more securely,” Trump said in a White House statement.
The new class of “Schedule F” employees refers to those serving in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions that are not normally subject to change as the result of a presidential transition,” according to the order.
These civil servants will now be easier to hire and agencies will have greater flexibility in being able to “remove them without going through a lengthy appeals process.” “The Government Accountability Office reports that it takes 6 months to 1 year to remove Federal employees for poor performance,” the White House explained.
The order represents the culmination of work by a group of conservatives in the White House who began to work on reining in the sprawling government bureaucracy. Coordinating labor policy for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council was James Sherk who was a former research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation.
Despite the alarm from critics, the order does prohibit “certain personnel actions against ‘Schedule F’ employees,” including any that would be based on the “employee’s partisan affiliation, other protected characteristics, or because of the employee’s status as a whistleblower.”
According to The Washington Post:
Soon after Trump took office, a young aide hired from the Heritage Foundation with bold ideas for reining in the sprawling bureaucracy of 2.1 million came up with a blueprint. Trump would hold employees accountable, sideline their labor unions and give the president more power to hire and fire them, much like political appointees. The plan was a counterweight to the “deep state” Trump believed was out to disrupt his agenda
“This president’s attacks on our federal workforce continue: It seems clear that he wants to be able to fire exemplary career officials like Dr. Fauci and those in the intelligence community who know that they serve the American people and not Donald Trump,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter.
The executive order will not affect the Senior Executive Service, the federal employees who serve below presidential appointees.
“President Trump has worked tirelessly to promote an efficient and streamlined Federal bureaucracy,” the statement from the White House explained. “President Trump has delivered on his promise to put in place commonsense reforms to ensure that the Federal Government better serves all Americans.”
U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky praised the president for following through on his promise to the American people to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
“Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a massive unelected, unaccountable federal government with the power to create policies that impact Americans’ everyday lives. President Trump has long pledged to take on this bureaucracy and restore power to the people by draining the swamp,” the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee said in a statement.
“Today, President Trump again delivered on his promise by signing an executive order that will help make bureaucrats who have the ability to create and implement policy more accountable for their actions,” Comer added. “I applaud President Trump’s efforts and I look forward to working with him to continue to strengthen transparency and accountability in the federal government.”