Following an executive order President Donald Trump signed last month, the Office of Management and Budget is moving to reclassify 88% of its workforce into a new job classification that would give the federal government more flexibility to fire these employees without going through a lengthy appeals process, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The budget office identified 425 of its employees — including analysts and other experts — who would switch to a “Schedule F” classification under the executive order by Trump, according to the Post. The move was first reported by Real Clear Politics.
CNN has reached out to the OMB for comment.
Trump’s executive order allows the OMB and other federal agencies more leeway to hire “Schedule F” employees and remove “poor performers” from these roles, effectively allowing them to replace civil servants with political appointees. The order applies to employees serving in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions” that typically do not change during a presidential transition.
A spokeswoman with OMB told the Post that Director Russell Vought “is implementing the President’s [executive order] as directed, and now it’s with [the Office of Personnel Management].” She added that further action “will depend on the review.”
Trump’s order directed agency heads to complete a “preliminary review” of which positions should be designated as “Schedule F” with a deadline of the day before the presidential inauguration.
The US Office of Personnel Management is also aiming to place many of its roughly 3,500 employees into the new classification, a senior administration official told the Post.
The two offices had agreed to be a precedent for the policy, the official told the newspaper.
Another administration official told the Post that the OMB employees are likely to be “reassigned” and said any discussion of firings were premature.
When Trump first signed the executive order, critics called it the “most profound undermining of the civil service in our lifetimes” and warned that it would lead to career officials being pushed out for political reasons.
They argued that the order would strip hundreds of thousands of federal workers of their due process rights and protections.
It also led a Trump appointee tasked with advising the administration on federal civil servants’ pay to resign in protest, calling the executive order an “attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”
This week, nearly two dozen Democratic leaders of House committees and subcommittees sent a letter to 61 federal agencies, seeking a “full accounting of any positions converted, or being considered for conversion” to the “Schedule F” category.
“The creation of this schedule would be a dramatic change in the composition of the civil service and expose it to undue political influence and intimidation,” the chairs wrote. “It is critical that Congress receive timely information about any potential and actual conversions made pursuant to this Executive Order.”
There are also ongoing attempts from congressional Democrats and union groups to block the executive order from being implemented. The order could be rescinded by President-elect Joe Biden once he takes office in January.
Democrats have introduced legislation in both the House and the Senate that would nullify the executive order. A group of Democrats, led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also wrote a letter asking congressional appropriators to bar funding to implement the executive order in the December spending bill.
Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, who represents the largest number of federal workers, said the OMB’s reported reclassification is likely the start of a “new campaign of sabotage” by Trump against Biden.
“Trump’s reclassification of the OMB workforce does not arise from of an abiding concern about the budget, he is trying to harm his successor’s ability to run the federal government during a pandemic and economic crisis,” Beyer said in a statement. “These attempts to destroy basic protections for the federal workforce and to salt the earth for President-elect Biden are contemptible, and will meet with strong resistance.”