GAO examines ‘stakeholder’ arguments around Appendix F

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Below is the portion of a GAO report on Schedule F excepted service authority that the Trump administration attempted to achieve, reflecting comments from more than a dozen former officials. agencies and other academics, federal unions, and nonprofits that GAO has requested. their views on the implications of Schedule F.

Several stakeholders told us that future administrations may seek to reinstate Schedule F, or a class of federal positions with similar attributes. Some stakeholders said this was partly because Schedule F could be used to speed up the hiring and firing of federal workers. Specifically, some stakeholders said Schedule F could be used to expedite the hiring of federal employees determined to advance the president’s political agenda and remove those who were not. However, several stakeholders discussed important trade-offs that agencies should consider when given more leeway to act quickly on hiring and firing. For example, some stakeholders stated that Schedule F was designed with fewer due process protections compared to competitive service and other excepted service hours. Many stakeholders said there was a risk that employees in Schedule F positions could be removed for partisan political reasons. Stakeholders also varied in their estimates of the potential number of positions that could ultimately be placed on Schedule F, given the agencies’ discretion to make this decision.

Federal hiring

Many stakeholders said that in general, the speed of federal hiring needs to be improved. Appendix F would have simplified the hiring process, which may have resulted in a faster time to hire than the competitive service process. . As part of the competitive service process, agencies must go through several steps to hire an employee, including screening and reviewing candidates, and applying veteran preference, among others. As shown in Table 1, Schedule F positions would not have required competition or the application of Veterans Preference in the same manner as it would have been applied under Title 5 of the U.S. Code ( title 5).

Although many stakeholders spoke of the need to accelerate federal hiring, there were differing views regarding the effect of the implementation of Schedule F on hiring and retention:

• Some stakeholders noted that a Schedule F category could create a second, potentially larger contingent of political appointees hired for their responsiveness to the President rather than their qualifications. One stakeholder said a Schedule F category would be a positive development, as employees in Schedule F positions should be committed to presidential priorities and therefore more motivated to implement the political agenda quickly and effectively. Of the president. Some stakeholders, however, said it could lead to federal employees being hired for their commitment to the president rather than their competence.

• Several stakeholders stated that Schedule F could make it more difficult to recruit federal employees, as potential candidates interested in a federal career could be deterred from accepting a Schedule F position if they thought they could be removed for political reasons after a change of administration.

• Several stakeholders told us that Schedule F could lead to increased staff turnover between jurisdictions, resulting in a lack of continuity and a potential degradation of the overall subject matter expertise held within the public service. One stakeholder said an independent civil service is important to preserve institutional memory, knowledge and skills in all administrations. However, another stakeholder said that while expert knowledge of how government works could and should be used to effectively implement policy, it could also be used to undermine, slow down and otherwise impede the implementation of the government’s agenda. President.

Dismissals and Performance Responsibility

Some stakeholders have said Schedule F could be used to expedite the removal of federal employees who are not committed to the president’s political agenda. Agencies are generally required to follow certain procedures when seeking to terminate an employee for reasons such as misconduct or poor performance. These procedures protect due process rights and allow the employee to be notified of their proposed dismissal, to have an opportunity to respond, to be represented by an attorney or other representative, and to have an account. written statement of the reasons for the decision. Federal employees also benefit from legal protections designed to ensure that they are not subject to prohibited personal practices, including discrimination and retaliation.

EO 13957 stated that “the government’s current performance management system is inadequate” and that “senior agency officials have reported that poor performance of career employees in policy-related positions has resulted in long delays and substandard work for important agency projects, such as drafting and enacting regulations.In addition, the EO said agencies need “the flexibility to quickly remove underserved employees.” performers of these positions without facing significant delays or litigation.” The EO would have excluded Schedule F positions from the Title 5 deletion requirements, thus speeding up the deletion process.

Some stakeholders have said that removals under the current process can take time. There were, however, differences among stakeholders as to whether the possibility of expedited dismissal would increase employee accountability and performance. One commenter said career staff must be prepared to take instructions from agency political staff or they should be fired, and that the possibility of quick dismissal would be enough to deter federal employees from trying to undermine priorities of an administration. In contrast, some other stakeholders stated that changes made under Schedule F, including changes to the dismissal process, would not increase employees’ overall accountability for their performance.
For example, some stakeholders said that without due process rights, Schedule F could reduce the willingness of public service employees to challenge potentially ineffective, unethical, or illegal requests from political staff without fear of being fired. In addition, some stakeholders have expressed concern that under Schedule F it may be difficult to distinguish legitimate removal orders for performance or misconduct from those motivated by patronage or partisan political reasons.

Potential scope of Annex F

Stakeholders shared a variety of views on the potential scope of the implementation of Schedule F. Many stakeholders said agencies could have identified positions affecting hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the board. of the government, as the criteria in Annex F could be interpreted broadly. In contrast, some stakeholders told us that they expected Schedule F placement to be limited to a narrower set of positions. One of these stakeholders said that the petition approved by the OMB, for example, was not indicative of the overall scope of EO 13957. This stakeholder said that the high percentage of employees identified with the OMB was due to the unique nature of its role as political adviser to the President, which they argued did not apply to most other agencies.

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