More than half of Mayor Marion Barry's political appointees are protected by D.C. civil service rules, which means that the next mayor is legally bound to offer them jobs, according to data released yesterday by City Administrator Carol B. Thompson.
The large percentage of civil service employees in Barry's senior service underscores the difficulties inherent in reducing the 48,000- member D.C. government bureaucracy -- a key goal of Sharon Pratt Dixon and Maurice T. Turner Jr., the Democratic and Republican mayoral nominees.
Of the 177 top city officials who serve at Barry's pleasure, 94 arrived at their positions from the ranks of the civil service and have the right to a position at the same grade level they occupied before they were elevated by Barry, under D.C. personnel rules.
This means that the next mayor must find relatively high-level jobs for these officials within the bureaucracy. It also means that the next mayor must retain a large number of high-level Barry appointees, many of whom remain loyal to Barry, while at the same time attempting to fashion a new administration and new policies.
Some of the high-ranking officials who will be protected by the civil service rules include Robert Pohlman, deputy mayor for finance; Walter B. Ridley, director of the Corrections Department; N. Anthony Calhoun, director of the Human Services Department; and budget director Richard C. Siegel.
Also protected are Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr.; Calvin C. Tildon, director of personnel; E. Veronica Pace, director of the Office of Aging; Raymond Skinner, executive director of the Office of Business and Economic Development; and Richard Maulsby, director of the Office of Cable Television.
Thompson said in a statement that there was nothing unusual about the number of high-level appointments from the civil service ranks.
"This is consistent with the Barry administration's philosophy of promotion from within and expanding professional opportunities," she said.
Both Dixon and Turner have proposed reducing the bureaucracy in different ways, with Dixon calling for the firing of 2,000 middle- and upper-level managers immediately and Turner saying that he would gradually reduce the government by 6,000 to 7,000 workers through attrition.
Lon Walls, a spokesman for Turner, said the large number of civil service employees in the mayor's senior service highlights one of Turner's major criticisms of Dixon: that she cannot carry out her pledge to fire 2,000 workers given the restrictive nature of D.C. personnel rules.
"It is absurd of her to say she's going to get rid of 2,000 employees," Walls said. "She can't do it."
Dixon has said she would fire workers who don't have civil service protections. According to the D.C. Personnel Office, roughly 3,800 temporary or term employees are under the mayor's control.
Florence Tate, a Dixon campaign spokeswoman, said Dixon had no immediate comment on the numbers released by the administration. In an interview with The Washington Post last week, Dixon expressed little concern about the prospect of having to keep on large numbers of Barry appointees.
Dixon said she had been assured by Barry in a recent meeting that only about "a half-dozen" high-ranking employees were protected by civil service rules and that she could easily get rid of the rest. "You've got to have new blood," she said during the interview.
In her statement, Thompson also disputed criticisms that the administration has been using its final months to promote favored agency workers and grant costly contracts to political allies.
The D.C. Council was so concerned about the potential for abuse that it approved emergency legislation last week requiring Barry to submit for council approval any contract worth more than $1 million. Dixon has also expressed concern about last-minute contracting and hiring.
Thompson said that since Aug. 1, 17 contracts worth in excess of $1 million each were approved by Barry, including 14 for ongoing construction projects such as the Whitehurst Freeway, street repair and public housing renovation.
Raymond Lambert, director of the city's Department of Administrative Services, said the other three contracts included a $9 million contract to Tri-Continental Industries to provide petroleum to city agencies, as well as a $1.9 million contract to another firm for hauling sludge.
"There is nothing atypical surrounding government procurement," said Thompson, noting that during a comparable period last year, 19 contracts in excess of $1 million were approved by the mayor.