WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, government watchdog Accountable.US launched a new project bringing attention to the Trump administration political appointees that have “burrowed” into the federal government by converting to career civil service positions in Trump’s final weeks – or sticking around well-into the Biden administration despite clear policy differences.
At issue: twice-impeached former President Donald Trump signed an executive order in October that effectively stripped career civil servants of employment protections and opened the floodgate for even more political hires to be installed into long-term government positions. The potentially historic number of holdovers and hangers on from the previous administration pose a serious threat to the will of the American people and President Biden’s efforts to get the pandemic and recession under control.
“In his final days as president, Donald Trump refused to work with the incoming administration to deal with historic crises he only made worse. Instead he made it easier to pack the government with his political cronies,” said Kyle Herrig president of Accountable.US. “If any former Trump political appointees are now working to sabotage and obstruct action against the pandemic and recession, the public deserves to know their names.”
This week, Accountable.US sent letters, previewed in Salon, to chairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs who receive conversion reports from U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The letter calling for the release the names of the individuals seeking more permanent civil service positions in the name of transparency and accountability was co-signed by American Oversight, Public Citizen, Campaign for Accountability, Government Information Watch, and Government Accountability Project.
In addition, Accountable.US announced a new microsite serving as a clearinghouse for FOIA requests to federal government departments and agencies for correspondence with the OPM’s Merit System Accountability and Compliance Division (MSAC) seeking conversion for government employees in 2020 and 2021. The site will also house future reports on the group’s findings.
As of February 22, at least 24 Trump appointees have reportedly burrowed their way into civil service jobs in the federal government or refused to step down after the transition between administrations. That includes Mark Brown, the head of Federal Student Aid at the Department of Education. Brown was handpicked by industry-friendly, scandal-plagued former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and oversaw a multitude of problems regarding student loan garnishment and collection issues during the pandemic. Accountable.US has echoed Senator Elizabeth Warren and others in calling on Brown to step down.