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'Burrowing-in' by political appointees is rare, GAO says

By Joe Davidson
Eric Rich

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:

Burrowing-in, the practice of political appointees getting civil service positions, generally gets some ink before elections. While it’s an issue worth watching, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office indicates these conversions aren’t really a big deal.

Over a four-year period, from May 1, 2005, through May 30, 2009, 143 former political appointees or congressional staffers converted to career positions, according to the report. That’s not very many out of a federal workforce of 2 million.

The conversions were in 26 of 42 federal agencies surveyed. “Eighty (56 percent) of the 143 reported conversions were made by 5 departments: the Departments of Justice (32), Homeland Security (18), Defense (13), Energy (9), and Commerce (8),” GAO reported.

Those who want to move from a political position to the civil service still must follow merit system selection rules that call for fair and open competition, just like other applicants.

“Sometimes, however, circumstances surrounding conversions can raise questions as to whether the individuals received political favoritism or an unfair advantage in the merit system selection process, even the appearance of which could adversely compromise the integrity of the system,” the report said.

That’s why it’s an issue worth watching.

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

By Joe Davidson  | March 3, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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The question is not the number but the level that they serve.

Posted by: larry53 | March 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

As long as they take the Loyalty Oath to Obama, what's the problem?

Posted by: member5 | March 3, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Member5's memory is a bit off. It was the Bush administration that was attempting loyalty oaths. and the Justice Dept was the dept where they tried to insert it and "burrow" into. Seems the numbers from 2005-2009 show that too.

Posted by: kensolar | March 4, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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