The Trump Administration Has Planted a Land Mine in Federal Agencies - 2020-12-18
The outgoing administration has set a ticking time bomb for the incoming one, and planted it into every federal agency the president-elect is about to take over. Through executive action, President Donald Trump has gutted civil service protections, a four-year process that was undertaken to allow him to sweep out federal workers in his second term. Now that such a term isn't in the cards for Trump, his lieutenants are busy making big changes in federal agencies, potentially upending the work lives of hundreds of thousands of federal employees and sowing chaos in Joe Biden's first 100 days.
A race is on between those Trump die-hards and the incoming administration, as the Trump team looks to execute on powers they've aggregated before the Biden administration can act to stop them.
Beginning in 2017, the Trump administration began to discuss creating a new federal worker classification, called Schedule F. It was finally implemented by executive order on October 21. The new classification would allow Trump's deputies to effectively hire and fire at will. At the end of every administration, some appointees attempt to "burrow in": government-speak for converting their appointed roles into a career category, allowing them to stay despite the new regime. The changes under Schedule F could make that process much easier by removing requirements for individuals applying for federal government jobs. And once those officials have successfully burrowed in, they'd have new powers at their disposal. The changes that the Trump administration has already sought under Schedule F would, for instance, remove protections for 88 percent of the employees in the critical Office of Management and Budget, and potentially many more agencies. The OMB, which crafts policy and budgeting across the federal government, is critical to Biden being able to implement much of his executive agenda.