OPM Establishes Safeguards Against Schedule F

Press Release April 4, 2024

WASHINGTON – Any future administration determined to politicize the federal workforce will not be able to randomly fire career civil servants without cause under new regulations proposed by NTEU and finalized today by the Office of Personnel Management.

“With these regulations, President Biden’s administration has strengthened the guardrails around the merit-based civil service,” NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald said. “It will now be much harder for any president to arbitrarily remove the nonpartisan professionals who staff our federal agencies just to make room for hand-picked partisan loyalists.”

The OPM regulations are a direct response to former President Trump’s 2020 executive order that was intended to force frontline federal employees into a new classification – Schedule F – and strip them of their due process rights.

“Frontline federal employees are not political appointees, and for good reason. By having basic rights such as notice of any adverse action and an opportunity to respond, they are shielded from unlawful and politically motivated firings,” Greenwald said. “This is a bedrock principle of making sure day-to-day government services are provided by qualified professionals who do their job without regard to which political party holds the White House.”

Schedule F has been rightly criticized as an effort to resurrect the corrupt political patronage system and was rescinded by President Biden before it could be implemented. Since then, outside organizations hostile to government are urging the next Republican president to re-issue Schedule F, prompting NTEU to petition OPM for rules reaffirming that employees keep their rights even if they are involuntarily reclassified.

The new 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 notice to affected employees. Employees also will have the opportunity to appeal being shifted into a Schedule F.

NTEU’s petition was supported by a coalition of 13 unions representing more than 550,000 federal and postal workers.  

 “We now know that the architects of Schedule F wanted to get rid of large numbers of federal employees for reasons that had nothing to do with their job duties or performance, upending 141 years of federal employment based on skills and merit,” Greenwald said. “We are pleased that President Biden’s administration has taken proactive steps to protect our civil servants and the honorable tradition of public service.”

 NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.