OPM Announces Proposed Rule to Protect Career Civil Servants

​The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced a proposed rule on Sept. 15 that would reinforce long-standing protections and merit system principles for career civil servants. The previous administration had issued an executive order, which President Joe Biden revoked, that would have directed agencies to recategorize many career employees into a new at-will status that would have removed their civil service protections. We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.

Millions of Civil Servants

“The proposed rule honors our 2.2 million career civil servants, helping to ensure they can carry out their duties without fear of political reprisal,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja. “Career federal employees deliver critical services for Americans in every community. Prior attempts to needlessly politicize their work risked harming the American people.”


Trump’s Revoked Executive Order

In October 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order creating a new job category, called Schedule F, for certain federal employees in confidential, policymaking and policy-advocating positions. Under this executive order, federal agencies could decide which employees to put in this category, and those jobs would become “excepted services” roles. This would enable agencies to expedite hiring and firing processes for those jobs rather than having to follow the traditional competitive hiring procedures. Biden revoked this executive order on Jan. 22, 2021.

(SHRM Online and The White House)

Purpose of the Proposed Rule

The proposed rule would make it more difficult to reinstate Trump’s old executive order if Trump or another Republican supporting the old executive order wins the 2024 presidential election. However, Trump allies said a Republican administration could simply use the same rulemaking process to roll back the new regulation and then proceed.

(The New York Times)

Different Views of Rulemaking

Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees labor union, welcomed the proposed rule. The union represents 750,000 federal and D.C. government workers.

However, several Republican presidential contenders have adopted Trump’s stance of reducing the current federal workforce. They are responding to a suspicion from their supporters that in the government is a “deep state” that worked against Trump’s priorities while he was in office.
(AP via CBS 13 News WOWK)

Proposed Rule Provisions

The proposed rule defined policy-related jobs in the federal government narrowly, whittling this definition down only to noncareer political appointments. The proposal also granted federal workers the right to appeal any job reclassification that would result in the loss of civil service protections to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Comments on the proposed rule, which appeared in the Sept. 18 Federal Register, are due on or before Nov. 17.

(Government Executive)

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