In a stunning move Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order moving many “policy-making” federal employees to a new classification that removes their “civil service protections” going into effect just before inauguration in January.
The new order essentially moves certain executive branch “men and women in the Federal service employed in positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character” to a new Classification F. This classification essentially moves these employees from union protections to “at-will” employees.
In the order, the President states, “Unfortunately, the Government’s current performance management is inadequate, as recognized by Federal workers themselves. For instance, the 2016 Merit Principles Survey reveals that less than a quarter of Federal employees believe their agency addresses poor performers effectively.”
“Separating employees who cannot or will not meet required performance standards is important, and it is particularly important with regard to employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions. High performance by such employees can meaningfully enhance agency operations, while poor performance can significantly hinder them.
Senior agency officials report that poor performance by career employees in policy-relevant positions has resulted in long delays and substandard-quality work for important agency projects, such as drafting and issuing regulations.”
Critics of the order like American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley claim that the President is turning now protected federal employees into political “cronies.”
In a statement released Kelley claimed the executive order is “the most profound undermining of the civil service system in our lifetimes.”
“This executive order strips due process rights and protections from perhaps hundreds of thousands of federal employees and will enable political appointees and other officials to hire and fire these workers at will,” Kelley said. “Through this order, President Trump has declared war on the professional civil service by giving himself the authority to fill the government with his political cronies who will pledge their unwavering loyalty to him—not to America.”
The order is already under scrutiny. As reported by Government Executive,
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who serves as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subcommittee on government operations, blasted the administration’s efforts to remove workers’ civil service protections.
“This executive order is yet another attack on federal employees that addresses absolutely none of the issues that can hinder effective federal recruitment and hiring,” Connolly said. “It’s a cheap ploy to let the Trump administration replace talent and acumen with fealty and self-dealing.”
I don’t think the American people will agree. Anyone in the private sector is an “at-will” employee with no “protections” for a life-time appointment. Private sector employees are accountable for their performance reducing mediocrity in the workplace.
In addition, they are not “protected” by furloughs and indefinite pay while not working at home as most government employees have been during the shutdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The truth is the past four years have been plagued with confidential “leaks” to the press by federal employees with no accountability. The taxpayers deserve higher standards for their money in government though they rarely get it.
We should applaud President Trump for his move!
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