Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin fired hundreds of members of Pentagon policy advisory boards Tuesday, resorting to a blunt method of removing last-minute Trump administration appointees, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Senate confirmed Austin as defense secretary January 22, and he is now cleaning house at the Pentagon less than a week later. His Tuesday firings hit appointees from nearly every recent administration, The Wall Street Journal reported.
President Donald Trump made a wave of last-minute appointments to every sector of the federal government before leaving office. The appointees enjoy strong protections from being fired for political reasons, but Austin’s decision to fire the the boards en masse circumvents those protections. (RELATED: How Biden Will Deal With The ‘Deep State’ Trump Built For Him)
“Advisory boards have and will continue to provide an important role in shaping public policy within [the Department of Defense],” Austin wrote in a memo to the Pentagon’s leadership. “That said, our stewardship responsibilities require that we continually assess to ensure each advisory committee provides appropriate value today.”
“This process shall ensure that advisory committee and subcommittee member appointments comply with all applicable federal statutes and regulations,” Austin added.
Members will officially lose their positions effective February 16. Austin also ordered reviews of 42 additional boards to be completed by June. Those boards have been suspended in the interim.
Despite his short time in the post, the move is not Austin’s first attempt to curb the impact of Trump’s last-minute appointees. He ordered the DoD on Friday to suspend the processing of new advisory board members.
It is common practice for outgoing presidents to appoint loyalists to key administrative positions to protect the administration’s priorities. Trump took it further, however, making it more difficult for new administrations to fire and replace these officials.
Trump began preparations for the Biden administration in October with an executive order stripping many civil servants of their job protections, allowing him to fire them and either replace them with political loyalists or remove their positions entirely.