As president, Trump would prioritize overhauling federal agency staff

According to Reuters’ sources, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told donors at a private meeting in Cleveland Tuesday that if elected president, Donald Trump would ask Congress to pass legislation granting him executive authority to fire civil servants who have converted to career roles in the federal government.

Christie, who chairs Trump’s White House transition committee, also said that the campaign is currently making a list of Obama appointees to let go, but needs congressional approval to cut personnel who former presidents have designated as permanent civil government workers.

“It’s called burrowing,” said Christie. “You take them from the political appointee side into the civil service side in order to try to set up . . . road blocks for your successor, kind of like when all the Clinton people took all the Ws off the keyboard when George Bush was coming into the White House.”

The incident Christie is referring to was documented in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which said Clinton staffers had ripped the ‘W’ key off computers and plastered White House offices with explicit signage before Bill Clinton yielded the presidency to George W. Bush.

A Trump White House will also seek to overhaul the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Christie, and hire business leaders to manage government agencies in part-time roles, allowing them to continue in their private-sector careers.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is currently investigating the conversion of appointees to career civil servants. On Wednesday, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent letters to 23 federal executive departments and agencies requesting figures on the number of personnel that have been “burrowed” since September 2015.

By March, the federal government had employed 3,164 political appointees, 852 appointed by a president.

A 2010 GAO report showed that 143 former political appointees and congressional employees had converted to career jobs between May 2005 and 2009.

The House Oversight letters stated, in part: “[C]onversions . . . run the risk of favoring political staff at the expense of more qualified career applicants. Conversions also create morale problems, in that qualified career applicants who lose out on promotions to applicants from the agency’s political staff can rightly wonder if the process was legitimate. The appointing officials must ensure each conversion of a political appointee to a career position results from a fair and open competition.  Hiring decisions must be free from political interference, legitimate, and justified.” 

 

[Reuters] [Photo courtesy imgflip.com]