Published December 10, 2009
The Obama administration seeks to empower a very powerful government agency you have probably never heard of with new and expanded powers that will have a direct consequence on every American if they are successful in their efforts to implement national health care reforms.
The Obama White House is also drunk with power and is seeking to expand the powers of government agencies to oversee and act out to affect Americans in ways that this country has never seen before.
What is the Office of Personnel and Management and why should you care?
The Office of Personnel Management, (OPM), is suppose to be an independent government agency that is charged with managing the civil service system of the federal government. If you are a federal employee then civil service laws, rules and regulations that are managed by OPM govern you. One of the main charges of OPM is to administer and oversee federal health care provided to all federal employees.
The Director of OPM is appointed directly by the president and confirmed by the Democratically controlled Senate. The current director of OPM is a fellow by the name of John Berry who, before becoming OPM director this past year, was director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. -- You cannot make this stuff up.
Under the Democrats' national health care scheme not only would OPM be charged with overseeing and administering federal employees health care but they will have the added charge of administering civilian federal health care as well. What does that mean? Basically, that Americans will be treated as “civil servants.” Are you starting to see the danger?
The more government seeks to control our lives the more Orwellian it gets. This “big brother” mentality that "government knows best" and that it is their mission to provide cradle to grave “care” of its citizens will doom America as we know it. Under such a system the individual becomes meaningless and the state becomes the entity upon which we are all forced to rely.
Most recently OPM made news when the Obama administration sought to use it as a tool upon which to consolidate power.
Under orders from the White House, it is being reported that OPM is on a mission to rid the executive branch bureaucracy of Bush-era personnel who are no longer political appointees and who have lawfully become civil servants.
It is not uncommon for some presidential political appointees to have the opportunity to become civil servants within the federal bureaucracy when they meet all the criteria for a federal civil service job.-- Ordinarily, a political appointee serves "at the pleasure of the president" who originally appointed that person to a particular position. When the president’s term is up their job is up as well. But, when a political appointee becomes a civil servant they are considered full- time government employees and are subject to the rules and regulations governing all other federal employees. Civil service jobs are seen a non-political jobs and are not based on appointment. They are based on merit. Their employment continues until they retire, quit, or are removed from their position for cause. It should never be permissible to remove a civil servant based solely on their political affiliation.
The Obama administration has now ordered a purging of Republicans from federal government civil service.
The Office of Federal Personnel Management, (OPM), has become the “henchman” of the Obama administration. Following orders they have issued new rules -- going back five years --wherein every employee hired, who previously had been a political appointee, will be terminated regardless of cause or poor performance.
It is clear what the intent of the Obama administration is by looking at the following statement made by John Berry the Director of OPM:
Beginning January 1, 2010, agencies must seek prior approval from OPM before they can appoint a current or recent political appointee to a competitive or non-political excepted service position at any level under the provisions of title 5, United States Code. OPM will review these proposed appointments to ensure they comply with merit system principles and applicable civil service laws. I have delegated decision-making authority over these matters to career Senior Executives at OPM to avoid any hint of political influence.
The memorandum specifically applies this change to all political appointees hired in the past 5 years and effectively works to freeze them out of their current jobs or make their lives so miserable by denying promotions, that they will quit before they are forced out.
It is outrageous that the Obama administration would politicize what is supposed to be a independent government agency and would become so vindictive and cold in their exercise of raw political power that they would take steps to eliminate people from their legitimate government employment, based solely on their political pedigree and not their job performance.
I served in the White House during the presidency of George W. Bush. When he took office, we knew that a fair amount of Clinton appointees were making the transition from political appointment positions to civil service positions and nothing was done to “root them out”. They were entitled to remain in their positions and were held to the same standard of job performance as any other civil service employee.
There is nothing worse than abuse of government power. It erodes the very fabric of our laws and respect for government institutions.
For an incoming administration to make a "witch hunt" one of its top priorities and to attempt to fire civil servants who they believe are Republican “sympathizers” is something you might have expected in the former Soviet Union or from the KGB. But it's not something we expected to see in the United States led by the White House.
The expanded “portfolio” of OPM should worry all Americans. This little known agency will make the IRS look down right friendly if the Obama administration is successful in expanding their duties, powers and responsibilities.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. He is currently a professor of Public Policy and Politics at Georgetown University and is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.