The Senior Executive Service (SES) is made up of the men and women who lead most of the major government agencies in the USA. According to the Office of Management and Budget, “Members of the SES serve in the key positions just below the top Presidential appointees. SES members are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the Federal work force. They operate and oversee nearly every government activity in approximately 75 Federal agencies.”
There are well-defined guidelines in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for removing people from these positions and they are set up to guard against the influence of partisan politics while ensuring that people who are not doing the job or who are engaging in “misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or failure to accept a directed reassignment or to accompany a position in a transfer of function” can be replaced.
Republican Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) wants to change that and make it easier for legislators to replace these essential government leaders, opening the door to a political patronage system that allows partisan politics to determine who runs our government agencies. He is doing this with legislation he introduced in late July, H.R. 5169 – Senior Executive Service Accountability Act. This bill changes a key part of the Code of Federal Regulations that governs the removal of SES members from office.
The current law says this:
5 U.S. Code § 7543 – Cause and procedure
(a)Under regulations prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management, an agency may take an action covered by this subchapter against an employee only for misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or failure to accept a directed reassignment or to accompany a position in a transfer of function.
Walberg’s bill changes the wording to this:
(a)Under regulations prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management, an agency may take an action covered by this subchapter against an employee only for such cause as would promote the efficiency of the service, misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or failure to accept a directed reassignment or to accompany a position in a transfer of function.
That bit in bold font, ten seemingly simple words, would allow these top civil service officials to be removed from office based on the whims of those in charge who could simply use the nebulous concept of “promoting the efficiency of service”. As Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, put it, this change is “a troubling attempt to keep chipping away at laws that protect the federal workforce from becoming a politicized patronage system.”
The legislation, which was co-sponsored by Darryl “Benghazi” Issa (R-CA) and John Carter (R-TX), passed the House in September and is now in the hands of the Senate where it will hopefully die an ignominious death.
This is a clear indication of the type of legislator Tim Walberg is. Except for a brief six-year period between 1998 and 2004, Walberg has been a state or federal legislator for over three decades. During that time, he has been one of the most ideological partisan Republican politicians in the country and claims he was “a tea partier before there was a tea party.” His repeated votes to shut down the federal government and to repeal Obamacare show that he is not interested in working with others to make our government work. He’s part of the “no compromise” wing of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus.
Voters in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District have a clear choice on Election Day this year. They can vote to continue the partisan gridlock championed by Tim Walberg. Or they can elect Pam Byrnes, a Democrat who has a proven track record in the state legislator she was the Speaker Pro Tempore of working with ALL of her colleagues including Republicans to make government run better and to improve the lives of her constituents.