President Biden signed an executive order in January revoking his predecessor’s attempts to make federal bureaucrats fireable and therefore accountable. This will insulate federal employees from accountability for performance or misconduct, protecting bureaucrats who pursue private political agendas.
What political agendas, you might ask? Career employees at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) provide one example of deep-seated bias. After Biden removed Peter Robb, the Trump-appointed NLRB general counsel, a retired regional NLRB director e-mailed Biden’s pick for Robb’s successor:
It is such sweet justice to see Robb kicked out on his ass and you replace him … I know it sets a new precedent which the others were averse to seeing. But this situation was different in my mind because, as we both know, Robb did what he could to hollow out the Agency and ruin it. It was only because of the brave resistance of people like you that he did not do more damage. So I celebrated when Robb was shown the door.
Emails show many other “nonpartisan” NLRB civil servants rejoiced at Robb’s abrupt firing and fawned over Biden’s appointee. Such partisanship was not confined to the NLRB. Even the Washington Post admitted how rampant career employees’ opposition to Trump was.
This behavior proves the wisdom of the founders of our civil service. George William Curtis was the chairman of the first Civil Service Commission and a champion of the Pendleton Act that created the federal civil service. He believed federal job protections would “seal up incompetency, negligence, insubordination, insolence, and every other mischief in the service.” So the 1883 Pendleton Act placed almost no restrictions on removals. Initially, agencies could easily and quickly fire insubordinate civil servants.
That is no longer the case. Today’s civil service rules now require proving a federal employee deserved removal. Employees can then extensively appeal. The full process takes years, and removals are often overturned. This system allows many federal employees to keep their jobs despite egregious behavior.
For example, investigators concluded two prosecutors intentionally concealed exculpatory evidence from Sen. Ted Stevens’ defense team during his corruption trial. The judge
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