NTEU Endorses Legislation to Protect Merit-Based Civil Service

Press Release February 14, 2023

Washington D.C.  – Bipartisan legislation to keep the merit-based federal workforce from being politicized was introduced today and endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union. 

The Saving the Civil Service Act would prevent attempts to replace skilled, qualified career public servants with people chosen for their partisanship. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. 

“It is unfortunate that this legislation is even necessary, but we all saw how the Schedule F proposal from the previous administration was a brazen effort to decimate the competitive service and install political loyalists across government,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “The Saving the Civil Service Act, which already has Democratic and Republican supporters, is about making sure the American people continue to be served by a federal government staffed by experts and professionals.” 

The 2020 executive order that created Schedule F would have moved an unknown number of federal jobs from the competitive service to the excepted service, stripping them of their due process rights and opening the door for the type of patronage that Congress expressly rejected 130 years ago when it created the merit-based civil service. President Biden rescinded the order, before any employees were affected. 

“Right now our agencies are staffed with people who are chosen through a competitive process that is based on merit,” Reardon said. “They take an oath to uphold the Constitution, support the mission of their agencies and are committed to the public good, no matter which party is in the White House. Congress is absolutely correct that we need to be vigilant against those who want a return to the spoils system.” 

Every president is allowed to appoint 4,000 people to government jobs throughout the federal agencies. Those appointees serve at-will and carry out the president’s visions and policies. Proposals like Schedule F are a dramatic expansion of that appointment power because they alter positions currently designated for nonpartisan career civil servants. 

“Frontline federal employees have dedicated their careers to public service and that commitment is the same regardless of who is president,” Reardon said. “Any suggestion that taxpayers would be better served by allowing an administration to hire and fire these employees for political reasons or on a whim is an affront to democracy.”  

NTEU represents employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.