Taxpayers Deserve Professional Civil Service, not Patronage

Press Release March 1, 2018

Washington, D.C. –  A 135-year-old American institution is at risk.

Since 1883, all Americans have benefited from civil service laws that ensure a non-partisan, merit-based federal workforce. Freed from political interference, dedicated employees put their talents to work securing the nation, safeguarding public health and fostering economic growth.

Yet, a movement is afoot to strip away protections and allow patronage to seep back into the world’s finest civil service system, warned National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon.

“There was a time in this country when government services were provided by political hacks who were loyal to the politician who gave them the job, not the taxpayers,” Reardon said. “Current proposals from the White House and some in Congress, disguised as ‘modernizing government,’ are actually a throwback to a system that perpetuated favoritism, discrimination and corruption.”

NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees who work for 32 different agencies around the country, doing jobs that taxpayers need them to do. When elected officials pursue shortcuts to firing them and weakening their due process rights, the result is a federal workforce that is afraid to stand up for taxpayers and disclose wrongdoing.

“Take any front-line job in the federal government and imagine if that employee was more worried about currying favor with the boss than performing the job with integrity,” Reardon said.

“Taxpayers expect the scientist at the Food and Drug Administration to remain focused on the safety of the consumer, not company profits. It’s more appropriate if the examiner at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation looks out for banking customers instead of shareholders. Should a toxicologist at the Environmental Protection Agency be worried about losing her job if she reports that a company is endangering public health?” Reardon said.

The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 built a federal employment system that discourages arbitrary actions against frontline federal workers and rejects personal or political favoritism in the workplace. They also shield federal workers who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse.

“Most importantly, our civil service laws ensure fairness and transparency in decisions regarding pay, performance evaluations, discipline, promotions and job duties,” Reardon said.

NTEU rejects proposals to roll back the fundamental American value of due process, and calls on Congress to ensure our federal employees do not, once again, fall prey to political influence.