The myth floating among strikers in the aftermath of the PATCO controller strike was “they can’t fire us all”. Ronald Reagan proved them wrong firing over 10,000 striking controllers.
The catch was that they had all signed a binding “no-strike” pledge and broke it.
So what do you do about a recalcitrant public employee that refuses to do his job? The answer: Issue a legal order and let the employee follow that order and if he or she refuses, that’s insubordination, a firing offense even in the federal government. If properly documented any appeal would be short and if done clearly, compliance would most likely be the outcome.
But that requires leadership and dedication in the agencies and those qualities have been remarkably absent in the bloated leviathan called the federal bureaucracy. Federal agencies have been quite successful in resisting any attempts to control them.
Rogue Federal Bureaucrats Threaten Trump’s Agenda
“It’s hard to argue we have an accountable government when someone can’t be fired for years at a time,” @bgwilterdink says.
From The Daily Signal: By Fred Lucas / @FredLucasWH / February 05, 2017
Recent scandals in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service demonstrated that it’s almost impossible to fire federal employees, many of whom reportedly intend to go rogue by not implementing President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Conservatives are hopeful the time has come for civil service reform that would rein in this permanent class of government workers who have voiced outright hostility to the new administration. Some have even called it the “fourth branch of government” or “alt-government.”
“This is a situation where people voted and elected a president who is lawfully trying to complete those tasks [he promised in the campaign], while unelected bureaucrats are willing to overturn the will of the people,” Ben Wilterdink, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Task Force on Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development, told The Daily Signal.
Among federal employees, about 95 percent of political contributions went to Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential race, according to an analysis by The Hill.
Some of those federal workers are now in consultation with departed Obama administration officials to determine how they can push back against the Trump administration’s agenda, The Washington Post reported last week.
At the State Department, for example, nearly 1,000 government workers signed a letter protesting Trump’s executive order on refugees. A few days later, Trump had to fire acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she announced she wouldn’t defend the administration’s refugee policy.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said State Department employees who oppose the policy “should either get with the program, or they can go.”
“If a federal employee doesn’t like the ideological foundation or likely outcomes of a presidential directive, it doesn’t mean that the directive is not legal. It means that the views of the federal employee are in conflict with the views of the president who runs the federal government,” said Neil Siefring, vice president of Hilltop Advocacy and a former Republican House staffer, in a column for The Daily Caller.
“In that instance,” Siefring added, “the solution should not be to resist the actions of the president in their professional capacity as a career civil servant in the workplace. The solution is for that federal employee to honorably resign, not actively or passively hamper the White House.”
What if an employee won’t resign? Addressing the problem with the federal workforce won’t be easy, according to experts interviewed by The Daily Signal.
“You can fire federal employees, it’s just that nobody wants to put up with the process,” Don Devine, former director of the Office of Personnel Management during the Reagan administration, told The Daily Signal.
Multiple appeals can be made through the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the National Labor Relations Board.
“It’s almost impossible to discipline employees because it can be appealed to through the merit system, the labor relations systems, or through the EEOC,” Devine said. “We don’t have a civil service system; we have a dual civil service-labor relations system.”
During the Obama administration, two of its biggest scandals involved the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2013, a Treasury Department inspector general report determined the IRS had been targeting conservative groups. In 2014, a VA inspector general’s report revealed falsified appointments in which some veterans died while waiting for care.
Years later, conservatives remain frustrated that federal workers weren’t held accountable.
“I will take your IRS employees and raise you the EPA, where story after story, a worker was viewing porn on work time and couldn’t be fired because the process is fraught with appeals,” Wilterdink said. “It’s hard to argue we have an accountable government when someone can’t be fired for years at a time.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. House revived the Holman Rule, named after a Democrat congressman who introduced it in 1876. It would allow lawmakers to cut the pay of individual federal workers or a government program.