Here’s what Post Fed columnist Joe Davidson had to say about Rep. Todd Rokita’s (R-IN) bill to stifle the Federal workforce:
“Rokita’s bill makes the meaning of at-will status clear: “Such an employee may be removed or suspended, without notice or right to appeal, from service by the head of the agency at which such employee is employed for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.”
Think about that.
Political appointees could fire civil servants for “no cause at all.”
Civil service procedures can be long and frustrating, but they are designed to guard against arbitrary actions. Federal law governing the workforce permits disciplinary actions for “such cause as will promote the efficiency of the service.” At odds with the “at-will” power Rokita advocates, among the government’s long-standing merit system principles is one designed to “protect employees against favoritism, political coercion and arbitrary action and prohibit abuse of authority.”
The protections are not just there to protect federal employees. In fact, the most important beneficiaries of these protections are the nation’s citizens, taxpayers and residents. Civil service protections are designed to protect everyone against favoritism by political officials and politicized agencies. While political appointees carry out policies designed by elected leaders, federal agencies are charged with serving everyone without regard to their political affiliations. Allowing political officials to fire feds for no reason seriously damages the principle of a nonpartisan civil service.
Rokita introduced the legislation last year and said he plans to offer substantially the same measure soon.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called the bill a “shortsighted, blatant attempt to undermine a merit-based workforce that would … usher in a return to the spoils system and mean the end of a professional, non-partisan federal workforce dedicated to serving everyone, not just political allies.”
Rokita argued that at-will employment is how the rest of America works. But the federal government is not just another enterprise. The government is a monopoly providing services, many involving life and death, to and funded by all Americans. They cannot take their business elsewhere if treated badly because they are blue when the red team is in power — or vice versa.”
So, while middle class Feds works hard every day to keep Social Security, health care, law enforcement, justice, transportation safety, financial accountability, recreation, education, etc. flowing out to the public at large, the guys who are supposed to be in charge of the “big picture” spend their time dissing, undermining, attacking and trying to create a system where tax dollars can be handed out to their cronies in a non-merit-based spoils system.
I remember when I was growing up, Federal Government employment was looked at as a model, with merit based selection and career advancement, decent, predictable benefits, reasonable, but by no means extravagant, pay, good working conditions, and overall teamwork between civil servants and their political leaders that should set an example for state and local governments and other American employers to emulate. Today’s GOP advocates a “race to the bottom” approach whereby the Feds should adopt the least attractive practices of private industry to drive the best people into the private sector, thereby leaving the remaining jobs for GOP politicos to fill with their chosen hacks. And this is “progress?”