'Your sneak preview of the potential administration game plan for handling career U.S. executives is the most sickening domestic news, aside from accounts of mass murders, that I have ever read," said a normally mild-mannered federal manager.
He was reacting to a how-to-handle-bureaucrats handbook worked up by the Heritage Foundation. In it, the conservative think tank advises political bosses to keep bureaucrats under tight control and in the dark, lest they wreck the president's plans for spending cuts.
The report tells political appointees how to neutralize feds who stand in their way. It tells how to spot troublemakers and deal with them: withholding raises, transferring them or reorganizing them out of their jobs.
In response, a former top U.S. official who served under seven presidents writes:
" . . . Many people are upset about the foundation's cynical and subversive prescription for undermining, if not destroying, the career civil service. . . . One of the best evidences of the ignorance and arrogance of the foundation can be found in the series of experiences of 10 outstanding U.S. executives recently published in Federal Public Policy, edited by Lomand Publications.
" . . . Time and again it has been the career civil service that saved the day in the headlong rush of underinformed or unscrupulous political leaders or profiteers to make changes in government programs.
"If the appointees want to insure breakdown of the government and added costs to the taxpayers . . . they couldn't find a better way than their stupid effort to cut off their link with the only impartial knowledge and wisdom around, possessed by the superb career staffs at their disposal." G. S. in Arlington.
"Advising appointees to keep career civil servants in the dark strikes a familiar note. It is not new: It has been the hallmark of incompetent managers since time immemorial.
"The political 'scientist' who gave the advice should take some management courses. The advice goes against the grain of all sound management principles. And this from an administration touting efficiency in government! Another principle that the poli-sci boys should remember: To attack a country from within you first destroy its civil service!
"One more point -- I hear about the need for 'loyalty' to the political appointee and his agenda. One of the best leaders I had (in the private sector) stressed the need for loyalty, but added, 'I must EARN your loyalty, I can't command it!' And loyalty goes down as well as up!" A. K. in Lanham.
" . . . It recalls an infamous document and related tactics employed by the Nixon crowd . . . . That mentality forced me out of government service a decade ago . . . into an environment where I could accomplish far more in my chosen field . . . than I could accomplish fighting political hacks.
" . . . I came into government . . . with the naive belief that government needed people with my qualifications . . . willing to work for less than I could get in the marketplace. I thought of it as service for the public, not for a political party . . . although I have probably supported 95 percent of what the Republican Party stood for in the past several decades.
"But the Nixon crowd and . . . a number of people still close to this administration cannot stand objective, informed disagreement. That is sad. It is also probably paranoia brought on by incompetence and/or inexperience in effective management on the part of people putting out such trash." C. O. M. of McLean.