'Burrowing-in' by political appointees is rare, GAO says
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.
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| March 3, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
Categories: Workplace Issues
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