House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz is demanding to know how many Of President Barack Obama’s political appointees have converted to career employees during the past year.
The Utah Republican sent letters to 23 of the 24 executive branch agencies Wednesday asking about their use of “burrowing,” the bureaucratic practice of converting political appointees whose jobs can expire at a moment’s notice to become senior-level career civil servants who are almost impossible to remove from the government.
“Such conversions, sometimes referred to as burrowing, run the risk of favoring political staff at the expense of more qualified career applicants,” the Chaffetz letters read. “Conversions also create morale problems, in that qualified career applicants who lose out on promotions to applicants from the agency’s political staff can rightly wonder if the process was legitimate.”
Chaffetz’ committee has worked with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for several years to track political appointees’ transitions to career positions. Agencies must have OPM approval any time a political appointee is proposed for a career senior position. (RELATED: Obama Appointees Must Repay Salaries After Enabling Fraud)
Chaffetz requested all documents revealing the number of such employee conversions since Sept. 1, 2015, along with all emails and other records explaining OPM decisions to turn down any “burrowing” attempts. Agencies have until August 3 to respond.
Chaffetz sent a similar letter to OPM last month.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reporter earlier this year that Gina Farrisee, former assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Human Resources and Administration, “burrowed” into a role as the VA’s deputy chief of staff.
Dealing with a former political appointee of a previous president as a career deputy chief of staff in a federal agency could create a bureaucratic nightmare for a new chief executive.
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