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January 21, 2021
Yesterday, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. President Biden has promised to build back a better America, but he faces a steep climb to reach this lofty goal. The nation is still reeling from an ongoing pandemic and recession, and the government has had to cope with massive shocks to the civil service, morale, and its basic functions during the Trump administration. To make good on his promise, Biden will need to undo the damage from Trump and decades of right-wing actions to undermine governance.
January 19, 2021 | Slate
Over four years, federal workers were ignored, subjected to retaliation, and fired for articulating politically inconvenient truths or standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s attacks against the public. By all accounts, that is set to change under President-elect Joe Biden. But while new attacks may not be forthcoming, the fissures from old ones will remain, threatening the federal government’s structural integrity unless the next administration and Congress take action. For all that we know about Trump’s assaults on the federal workforce, there is likely more that remains hidden. Up to this point, Democratic leadership has failed to make combating or uncovering these incursions a priority. For the sake of the Biden administration’s success, that will need to change.
January 12, 2021
At the Revolving Door Project, we have frequently emphasized the importance of strengthening the civil service to ensure government works for public service and doesn’t cater to the interest of powerful people and corporations. We warned about how too much reliance on political appointments in the executive branch reduces accountability, citing academic research that political appointees perform worse than career managers. Especially in the Trump era, we have seen numerous examples of political appointees using the government for personal gain. Biden’s selection of William Burns, a career diplomat, as his CIA director should therefore be widely praised by progressives as a step towards restoring the civil service and depoliticizing the American intelligence community.
January 12, 2021
Over four years, the Trump administration pushed an already fragile government to the breaking point. Budget cuts, record civil service attrition and outright corruption (to name just a few) imperiled the most basic functions of the federal government to near collapse.
January 12, 2021
From the moment President Trump took office, he has been on a warpath with the civil service. He and his associates have waged an open war (and likely one behind closed doors as well) to seize control over federal employees just out of reach of easy firing. In October, as his presidency appeared rapidly to be approaching its end, he lobbed a bomb at the civil service system.
December 21, 2020
On Sunday Congress announced that it had reached a deal on a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the federal government funded through September. The package includes $1.375 billion for the border wall — sticking the incoming administration with a costly, unpopular, and inhumane project — and does nothing to halt President Trump’s attack on the civil service through the creation and implementation of the new “Schedule F” civil service classification.
November 20, 2020 | The American Prospect
Joe Biden Must Not Look for Unity in Mitch McConnell’s Obstruction
Last week, Mitch McConnell chose to fan the flames of baseless electoral conspiracy rather than acknowledge Joe Biden’s indisputable victory. Meanwhile, prominent Democrats took to the airwaves to insist that working with McConnell would not be nearly as hard as people claimed. This is dangerous, wishful thinking.
November 18, 2020 | The Hill
GSA head's transition refusal a predictable consequence of too many political appointees
General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy is often introduced as “obscure” or “little known.” Her new-found notoriety stems from her refusal to declare Joe Biden as the president-elect. This inaction blocks his team from meeting with senior agency personnel, even as Murphy herself looks for her next job. Murphy has drawn bipartisan condemnation for playing along with Trump’s assault on democracy. The condemnation should extend to the system that prioritizes rewarding political operatives like Murphy over any principles of merit, efficiency or meaningful accountability.
November 02, 2020 | Talking Points Memo
A Lame Duck Trump Admin Will Do All It Can To Pilfer Before Jan. Dems Must Be Ruthless In Thwarting It.
The way tomorrow’s election will go remains highly uncertain. If Trump loses, however, there is no doubt that his administration will set about destroying and pilfering all that it can. Already, as they stare down the barrel of electoral defeat, Trump and his entourage are previewing their lame-duck plan to shovel every federal dollar they can to family and friends.
October 29, 2020 | The American Prospect
Note to Biden: A President Can Do a Lot Even Without the Senate
For almost four years, the breathtaking cruelty, mismanagement, and corruption of the Trump administration have kept the pundits yapping, the printing presses running, angry congressional letters flying, and the Twittersphere ablaze. Depending on the results of next Tuesday’s election, however, Joe Biden may soon be in a position to actually do something about it all. As Biden and his advisers survey the rubble, it will be important that they not get distracted by the nonsense (“I will tweet less” is not a compelling administrative pillar), but rather home in on those features of the Trump administration that have made life worse for millions.
October 23, 2020 | Public Seminar
Donald Trump Politicized the Federal Bureaucracy: The Next President Needs to Reverse That
In an effort to mitigate the political damage from failing to contain the virus and manage its corollary crises, the White House recently mandated that the Department of Agriculture include a signed letter from Donald Trump inside food boxes, claiming credit for the federal program providing food to families in need. The move effectively politicized the taxpayer funded program as a tool of the president’s own self-promotion just a month before the election. Even worse, the department’s inclusion of the letter has jeopardized the program’s operation, as distribution sites fear they will be improperly engaging in political activity.
October 23, 2020 | Washington Monthly
Uncle Sam’s HR Department Needs Help
Joe Biden promises a return to an honest, competent federal government. For that to happen, the government must be adequately staffed with experienced civil servants empowered to push forward his policy agenda, should he win. Without an experienced team, even the best appointees will struggle.
September 24, 2020 | The American Prospect
Re-Fund the EPA
The wildfires and hurricanes plaguing the United States in the last month reflect the massive societal implications of climate change. Understanding the importance of this moment, Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan designed to transition the economy away from greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for an emission-free power sector by 2030, as well as an environmental justice component to address how climate policies have failed communities of color. Parts of Biden’s plan will require new legislation and others will deputize numerous federal agencies. But a major share of responsibility for success will fall on the Environmental Protection Agency.
September 01, 2020
Revolving Door Project Seeks to Uncover Politicization of Career Hiring Under Trump
Today, the Revolving Door Project is introducing a new initiative to uncover and draw attention to the ways the Trump administration may be seeking to interfere with the federal government’s ability to effectively serve the public interest over the long-term. RDP has issued Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the resumes of new hires at 10 federal departments and agencies. We seek to determine if hiring for career positions has been subjected to political influence. It is our hope that, by identifying potential instances of politicization, we can build political support for efforts to reverse any damage.
August 10, 2020 | Talking Points Memo
The Same Racist Rhetoric Used To Oppose D.C. Statehood Keeps The Federal Government Dysfunctional
Conservatives like Cotton have long villainized African-American pathways to the middle class that include government employment. In a conservative worldview that sees the U.S. government as by and for white people, Black employment in the public sector becomes a target for the GOP and federal jobs become fodder for racist “dog whistle” politics.