Proposed Rule Guards Against Future Schedule F

Press Release September 15, 2023

WASHINGTON – A president hostile to the civil service could not take away the due process rights of frontline federal employees under a draft rule published today by the Office of Personnel Management.  


Under the proposal, federal employees forced to move from the merit-based competitive service to the excepted service under a new Schedule F would retain their basic rights to notice of an adverse action and an opportunity to respond. These rights would help shield them from unlawful and politically motivated firings.  


Today’s proposed rule is in response to an NTEU petition filed with OPM in December of 2022. The petition requested that OPM consider the rule in response to the previous administration’s Schedule F plan, which would have removed qualified, professional, nonpartisan civil servants to make room for political appointees. The plan, widely criticized as the resurrection of a corrupt political patronage system, was rescinded by President Biden before it could be implemented.  


“We never want another attempt at Schedule F but just in case, this rule establishes some important guardrails to ensure that whatever is done is consistent with civil service laws and regulations,” said NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald. “The merit-based civil service is a critical part of our democracy, and no one should be able to undo that by Executive Order.” 


The proposed rule also lays out a process that must be followed before any federal positions are converted into essentially at-will jobs, such as reviews by the agency’s officials and an opportunity for affected employees to respond.  


“This isn’t just about protecting our union members. This is about making sure the American people are served by federal employees who were hired through an open, competitive process using criteria based on skills and expertise, not political affiliation,” Greenwald said. “Our country depends on federal employees – like EPA scientists, FDA inspectors and IRS accountants – who take an oath to uphold the Constitution and are committed to the agency mission, not a politician.”  


NTEU’s petition was supported by the Federal Workers Alliance, a coalition of 13 unions that represents more than 550,000 federal and postal workers.  


“As long as anti-union, anti-government groups are openly discussing plans for the next Republican president to fire tens of thousands federal employees and eliminate entire federal agencies, NTEU will keep fighting to preserve our nation’s proud history of delivering vital government services with professionals,” Greenwald said.  


NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.