May 30, 2019
CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder sent testimony to Congress on President Trump’s proposal to merge the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration. Bookbinder expressed deep concern about the proposal, writing that it was “antithetical” to the merit system, and would “create opportunities for politicization of the civil service.”
OPM was created after Watergate to restore the public’s trust in the government by ensuring that government workers are promoted based on merit, rather than political allegiance, and that government power was not abused for partisan battles. Re-assigning OPM’s regulatory function to the Executive Office of the President runs contrary to the goal of protecting civil servants from political influence.
For 136 years, the merit system has been guarded by independent commissions. To break from that precedent, Bookbinder warned, would mean that “the administration would seize unchecked political control of the personnel policies for the vast majority of non-political civilian positions in government.”
CREW urged Congress to reject President Trump’s proposal, and not to let the civil service be politicized.