Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) today announced a proposed rule that would clarify and reinforce long-standing protections and merit system principles for career civil servants.
“The proposed rule honors our 2.2 million career civil servants, helping to ensure they can carry out their duties without fear of political reprisal,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja. “Career federal employees deliver critical services for Americans in every community. Prior attempts to needlessly politicize their work risked harming the American people. The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to federal workers who serve the American people every day. These professionals are vital to our national security, our public health, our economic prosperity, and much more.”
“Our country relies on nonpartisan civil servants to make sure our food is safe and our water is clean, to protect us from national security threats, to care for veterans, and to support seniors,” said OPM Deputy Director Rob Shriver. “This proposed regulation builds on two years of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to strengthen federal agencies and the federal workforce to better deliver for the American people.”
“From day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has been committed to strengthening, empowering, and rebuilding the federal workforce, and today’s announcement reaffirms this commitment,” said White House Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jason Miller. “A strong and capable federal workforce is critical for the federal government to deliver for the American people.”
The previous Administration issued an executive order to alter the long-standing system that ensures that decisions to hire and fire career civil servants are based on merit and not loyalty to the President. The Executive Order, commonly known as “Schedule F,” would have directed agencies to move potentially large swathes of career employees into a new “at-will” status that would purportedly strip them of civil service protections.
President Biden revoked the Schedule F executive order on the third day of his Administration, making clear that career civil servants are the backbone of the federal workforce and provide the expertise and experience necessary for the critical functioning of the federal government. President Biden also made clear that it is the policy of the United States to protect, empower, and rebuild the career federal workforce. OPM is now proposing a rule that would clarify and reinforce statutory protections for career civil servants and to advance the importance of nonpartisan public service, continuing efforts that started with the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883 and were further codified in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.
OPM is proposing the following regulatory amendments:
- First, the proposed rule would clarify that the status and civil service protections an employee has accrued cannot be taken away unless the employee gives up these rights voluntarily.
- Second, the proposed rule would clarify the definition of positions that are “confidential, policy determining, policymaking, or policy-advocating” to mean noncareer, political appointments. These positions do not have civil service protections, and this proposed rule would prevent that exception to those protections, which is aimed at political appointments, from being misapplied to career civil servants.
- Third, the proposed rule would establish procedural requirements for moving positions from the competitive service to the excepted service and within the excepted service. This change would create transparency and an appeals process for federal employees when any such movement purports to strip them of their civil service protections.
The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the Federal Register on the proposed rule starting on Monday, September 18