Saturday, November 14, 2009

Obama Administration Human Capital: Republican Civil Service Jobs Denied?

The administration's Office of Personnel (OPM) is changing the rules for civil service jobs at the Executive and Senior Executive Service levels.The impact of the change, probably means that a Republican political appointee (Bush appointee) will have a much more difficult time winning a Federal job. In fact, it may be impossible to be hired for a high level Civil Service job - no matter your qualifications.

Obama Human Capital - Office of Personal Management

Via RedState, via Glen Reynolds at Instapundit: Reynolds received an email from a reader, with a Chief Human Capital Officers Council banner, and on OPM letterhead with the OPM seal. The "memorandum" is from John Berry, Director, and has the name Marlene Lightburn, Dallas, Texas office, at the bottom. The memorandum is directed to "Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies."

The short story is, in the past the OPM approves all Federal jobs for high-level political appointees in an election year. High-level is considered the Executive Branch and the Senior Executive Service positions. Executive Branch political appointees include U.S. Ambassadors, U.S. Attorney Generals, U.S. Marshals and others. Note that it is unlawful to deny a Federal job based on a person's political persuasion - excepting the election year requirement for a review at the highest level within the OPM.

The new OPM memo requires that all political appointees be approved for Federal jobs only by the highest levels of the OPM. The idea is to prevent political appointees from "converting" or "burrowing" into lifetime career jobs, and all the enormous perks that come with such a position. While a Bush appointee is not automatically rejected, they will now receive a more stringent review of their application.

Republicans are screwed on this one, at least for the next five years (until January 1, 2015), and note that if Barack Obama is ousted in 2012, it is conceivable Bush appointees will still not be accepted for a position for another three years - although I assume an incoming President can revert to previous rules, or ban Democrats for life?

The OPM is supposedly "independent" of the government and is considered neutral. The generally liberal Brookings Institute explains it this way:
Each new president who comes to office appoints thousands of men and women ot help lead the executive branch. While the career civil servants who work under their direction are recruited on a continual basis by the Office of Personnel Management and individual agencis, the leaders themselves are recruited by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, which is formed anew by each president.
This means the White House personnel office decides who runs the OPM. This means the White House influences how many, if any, opposition party applicants get hired - for a full five years. While a one-year stringent review may be appropriate, a five-year stringent review period seems inappropriate.

The Federal News Radio offered some statistics about "converting" and "burrowing." According to FNR, out of 1,600 political positions reviewed by OPM in 2008, "only two required further evaluation." So they asked OPM why the memo with the new five year plan?

OPM's Jeff Sumberg said it all has to do with Obama's goal of open and transparent government (...that's what the article said):
"Director Berry says it's not enough just look at conversion cases only during presidential election year. We need to focus on merit principles all the time," Sumberg says.
"The policy in government regarding looking at hiring of political appointees extends back to President Carter's years. It's about safeguarding the hiring process and paying particular attention when politicals or former politicals appointees try to get jobs."
Then, Sumberg said something that should snap you out of that slumber, if you are napping through this exceedingly boring, but important subject:
He emphasizes that OPM did not change the fact the rule applies to not only current political positions, but anyone who has served as a political appointee in the last five years.
Does that mean you might lose a Federal job you have now, if you took the position as a Republican in the last five years? Or does it mean your job reviews will be more thoroughly scrutinized - maybe unfairly scrutinized, or does it mean you may not receive a deserved promotion?

 About the Chief Human Capital Officers Council  moniker. "Human Capital" and "Human Resources" - both are obscene and disrespectful tags for employees. What is wrong with "employees?" Obama administration Human Capital?  Who thinks these things up? Consider this, the CHCO Act was enacted as part of Homeland Security in 2002, and the Council developed from that, so maybe that explains it - and yes, I know that would have been under a Republican administration, but knowing President Bush, he likely left Bill Clinton's Democrats to run the OPM.

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton