OPM Proposes Rule to Protect and Defend the Civil Service from Corruption and Political Influence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Matt Dorsey
September 15, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a press statement announcing a proposed rule to protect the career civil service from corruption and undue political influence. The proposed rule is in response to an attempt by a former presidential administration to install systematic impediments to transparency and accountability within the federal civil service, thereby enabling outsized control of the workforce by a president or appointee for personal or political gain.
Rescinded by the Biden Administration in 2021, the original executive order from the previous administration created a new category of federal employee under a scheme called Schedule F. The new scheme allowed a president and presidential appointees to hire, fire, and convert career employees to Schedule F status without consideration for the merit system principles that govern and protect the civil service from corruption and undue political influence.
While the authority already exists to hire and remove political appointees, Schedule F employees would be different in that they would not leave at the end of a presidential administration, as is standard practice. Instead, these employees would remain embedded as unseen independent operatives within the executive branch. In addition, with the ability to force career employees into Schedule F status where civil service protections do not exist, employees would have little recourse to act against corruption and political interference without risking termination.
“I thank OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, Deputy Director Rob Shriver, and OMB Deputy Director Jason Miller for their commitment to ensuring that the career civil service remains loyal to the American people and not to a political despot or party,” stated NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “The proposed rule would codify the importance of civil service protections that guard against fear and intimidation that, if unchecked, can open the door to corruption for personal or political gain. The proposed amendments to the federal regulations are critical to preserving accountability and transparency within government as a foundational pillar of our open democracy.”