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ELECTION SEASON STUFF- VIEW FROM FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE

Schedule F has gone into effect. During the blessedly limited time of his Administration, Trump has feared and repeatedly attacked the federal civil service. Trump’s immediately effective directive of October 21 established the new “Schedule F” within the “excepted” service of the  federal workforce for employees in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making or policy-advocating” positions, “excepted,” that is, from civil service protections; thus, the new Schedule F employees are converted into “at will” employees. The directive marks the culmination of Trump’s 4-year battle to bend the federal bureaucracy to his will and the undoing of the 1883 Pendleton Act which had put an end to the spoils system of the 19th century.  Schedule F rests on the premise of the “constitutional option,” an extension of “unitary executive theory,” and maintains that the president through Article II can dismiss any federal employee for any reason. In its remaining days, the Administration will use Schedule F to remove those with insufficient political fealty (“deep state”), while Trump loyalists will “burrow in.”  Agencies were given a 90-day deadline, on the eve of the incoming administration, to “name names”/positions  (thousands) for re-designation as Schedule F, i.e., being “purged,” with no right of appeal.

“The range of workers who could be stripped of protections and placed in this new category is vast, experts say, and could include most of the non-partisan experts- scientists, doctors, lawyers, economists – whose work to advise and inform policymakers is supposed to be done in a way that is fact-driven and devoid of politics.”

as quoted in www.vanity fair.com/news/2020/10/donald-trump-civil-servants-schedule-f. Several medical associations, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America, strongly condemned the action.

Ronald Sanders, a lifelong Republican and Trump-appointed head of an advisory council on the civil service, on October 26 resigned in protest, labelling the directive “nothing more than a smoke screen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”  Sanders expressed that he “cannot be part of an Administration that seeks…to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance.”  Sanders emphasized that career federal employees take an oath to preserve and protect the “Constitution and the rule of law, not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration.”  Schedule F went over Sanders’s “red line.”

The old “spoils system” “puts government on a constant learning curve, disrupts critical operations, and potentially sabotages future civil service reform”  (Troy Cribb, www.justsecurity.org, November 2, 2020), whereas the “Pendleton Act of 1883 established a strict merit system that used competitive exams to hire federal employees and made it illegal to fire them for political reasons.” President Carter’s Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 reaffirmed these principles while taking steps to further improve the professionalism and productivity of the federal workforce.  While Carter’s law came of a deliberative public process, the Schedule F directive issued without relevant input even of the Administration’s own experts and “has left government officials scrambling.”  31 members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has direct jurisdiction over the federal civil service and which was  not consulted by Trump, sent  the administration a letter “demanding the administration immediately stop” any activities related to the new Schedule F.  Per said letter, the Schedule F directive “seeks to undo 137 years of merit system hiring. It is a blatant return to patronage politics and a federal workforce based on cronyism and nepotism.”   https://www.afge.org/house-lawmakers-demand-immediate-stop-to – implementation-of-trumps-schedule-f-executive-order.   The House has introduced a bill, H.R. 8687, the Saving the Civil Service Act, which would reverse this one of Trump’s “going away” presents.  Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House subcommittee on government operations commented, “The new rule is a blatant attempt to cloak political retaliation in legitimacy.”  Washington Post, Eric Yoder, “Trump administration moves to make it easier to discipline federal workers,” October 19, 2020.  `—————-See also, https://www.peer.org/schedule-f-americas-toxic-politics-killing-us.  And see https://www.salon.com/2020/11/01/trump-asserts-dictatorial-power-over-top-government-employees_partner/