National Federation of Federal Employees president James M. Peirce says that any changes in the law permitting federal workers to take an active role in partisan politics must include "fool proof safeguards" protecting career employees from political bosses.
The House has already passed legislation amending the 38-year-old Hatch Act, which now limits federal employees to passive roles in political campaigns. That bill, which President Carter has said he would sign, would allow federal and postal workers to run as candidates, collect money or manage partisan political campaigns. The Senate hasn't taken final action on Hatch Act changes, and won't until sometime next year.
Peirce made the call for "foolproof safeguards" because of what he said are the "increasingly frightening policies developing in the Carter administration" in politicizing more top federal jobs. Peirce said he is concerned about recent White House ordered changes that "yanked" a number of career regional jobs from the career service "into the political arena."
The Carter administration changed a number of top field jobs in various agencies from career status to the political Schedule C.
Peirce said he is also worried about Carter appointees using reorganization "as a guise to get rid of a number of career workers to make room for Carter initiates without breaking the bank. What easier way is there to do this . . . without undue criticism than to downgrade, transfer, fire or force retirement of federal employees in the name of efficiency and responsiveness."
As a result of making regional jobs in the General Services Administration political, Peirce said, "now 99 per cent of all government fiscal and procurement policy will be in the hands of the party that controls the White House.