The April 11 front-page article “As he shrinks government, Trump seeks to close OPM” mentioned that the Office of Personnel Management’s human resource policy function is moving to the Executive Office of the President. This is the real story.
Under President Trump’s plan, HR policy will be directed from the White House, which has far less accountability to Congress and the public than a federal agency. In their rationale for the reorganization, the authors of the “Reform and Reorganization Plan” wrote that integrating HR policy and strategy functions into the EOP would align HR policy in a manner “similar to other functions like IT, procurement, and financial management.”
The 1883 Pendleton Act was enacted because hiring and firing employees is not the same as buying office equipment or establishing auditing standards. Under the spoils system, politicians rewarded supporters with federal jobs and removed people who did not agree with their policies. This president and his administration have granted security clearances against the advice of national security professionals, are accused of reassigning senior career staff to far-flung posts for disagreeing with the administration’s policies and have berated a civil servant for accurately describing the inaugural crowd size.
There are more laws protecting civil servants now than 136 years ago, but this president has disregarded laws he doesn’t like and norms he can’t understand. Once this precedent is established, future presidents from any party may not feel obliged to comply.
Jonathan Foley, Silver Spring