The President Needs the Power to Fire Bureaucrats

Source: Wall Street Journal.

I have long been an advocate of Civil Service accountability, as is the writer of this story.

Although he doesn’t mention it, I believe the Senior Executive Service within the Civil Service would be an appropriate focal point for accountability reforms. According to Wikipedia, SES personnel serve “in key positions just below the top presidential appointees as a link between them and the rest of the federal (civil service) workforce.” Thus, they are the people who mentor the political appointees in the operations of the bureaucracies they head, as well as having the authority to compel proper, non-partisan performance within the agencies they serve.

13 thoughts on “The President Needs the Power to Fire Bureaucrats

  1. The failed attempt at a coup by Trump is a strong argument in favor of an independent bureaucracy. It was the refusal by career DOJ lawyers to aid Trump’s illegal schemes that caused their ultimate failure.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “The failed attempt at a coup by Trump is a strong argument in favor of an independent bureaucracy.”

      I don’t think the argument is strong at all. A so-called “independent bureaucracy” is by definition an unaccountable one, but unaccountable government is why the colonies separated from Britain.

      Like

      1. There is no bright line between “accountable” and “unaccountable.” It is the job of the political appointees IN CHARGE of the bureaucracy to hold them to account if they fail to perform their LAWFUL duties as directed.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Both houses of Congress have oversight committees for just the purpose of accountability within the bureaucracy. That is what McCarthy is “threatening” with his investigation of Garland IF they retake the House.

        Like

        1. RE: “Both houses of Congress have oversight committees for just the purpose of accountability within the bureaucracy.”

          According the article it isn’t enough. Besides, under our system the bureaucracy reports to the Executive.

          Like

          1. “According the article it isn’t enough. Besides, under our system the bureaucracy reports to the Executive.”

            An opinion. So what?

            And the Constitution’s system of checks and balances provides for OVERSIGHT of the Executive (including the bureaucracy) is there. You want to change it, pass a Constitutional amendment.

            Like

          2. RE: “An opinion. So what?”

            The opinion is that the president should be able to fire bureaucrats more easily. The fact is it is difficult for the president to do so. Another fact is that the Legislature has already delegated “executive” authority to the Executive, but in the case of hiring and firing bureaucrats it doesn’t work well.

            Your Congressional oversight theory is unworkable, if only for the practical reason that Congress doesn’t have time to manage personnel under the Executive Branch, and it is not in their charter to do so.

            Like

          3. So oversight doesn’t exist? Fine tell McCarthy he can’t investigate Merrick Garland if the GOP retakes the House. It is verboten, according to you.

            So inconvenient when the law says something that you claim to be “unworkable”. But that’s the Constitution for ya.

            It is not about management. If poor management in the Executive Branch leads the Legislative Branch to inquire into the performance of a bureaucrat and finds fault, then proper actions, UNDER THE LAW, can be taken. You can’t fire someone because he wears a blue tie on red tie day. But the staffs of Congressional members do the majority of that work anyway. Rumor has it that Ron Johnson can’t take a crap without a staffer standing by to wipe his head.

            Trump did a pretty good job of firing folks who wouldn’t kiss his ring. So the sob story that it is hard for POTUS to fire bureaucrats is horse hockey.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. RE: “So oversight doesn’t exist?”

            Perhaps an analogy will help you see my point concerning the president’s ability to hire and fire bureaucrats.

            The Navy is a department under the Executive branch. There is a Naval command called BUPERS which manages all human resources for the Navy. Congress obviously has oversight over the Navy and, by extension, BUPERS. It even passes laws from time to time that affect BUPERS operations.
            But despite all that, the president can fire any officer or sailor he chooses.

            The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) performs a role similar to BUPERS for the civil service and has a similar, somewhat distant relationship to Congress. The difference, though, as that whereas the president ultimately controls the career of every sailor and officer, the president does not control the career of every civil servant.

            In my opinion, that’s a big mistake.

            Like

          5. “The Navy is a department under the Executive branch. ”

            A stretch at best. The Navy is IN a department (DoD) under the control of the Executive.

            “the president does not control the career of every civil servant.”

            He doesn’t? How is that even possible? You’re blowing smoke.

            Like

    2. There is a level of bureaucracy below appointees, who can be fired, and those who carry out policy who are civil servants and protected, which does make policy. It is that policy making level of bureaucrats, not appointees, but with discretion in following the orders of the appointees, that must be more easy to fire if they won’t be reined in.

      Like

      1. This is pure nonsense. The whole thread is based on a false premise. It may be difficult to fire civil servants – and that is as it should be – but anybody below the political layer can be given new duties at any time if they fail to perform to the satisfaction of the administration. It happens all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s