Bush Upped Political Appointments, Now Wants Bureaucrats

Created: November 18, 2008 14:15 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Earlier I noted it’s worth keeping an eye on last-ditch “burrowing” efforts by the executive branch, where political appointees slide into career positions, presumably to carry through the White House policy of a previous administration even after a new president has moved in.

Interestingly, the current move by the executive branch is in contrast to President George W. Bush’s plan for the civil service eight years ago. At the time, the Bush administration was criticized by Republicans and Democrats for increasing the number of political appointments in federal agencies. The result is a government composed of more people beholden to the White House than Congress, as career bureaucrats are, than before.

The House oversight committee prepared a report in 2006 on this increase in political appointments. It found that the executive branch had increased the number of political appointees by 33 percent since the Clinton administration.

Who got those plum jobs? According to the same report, white men faired the best. Meanwhile, the hiring of women and minorities declined by about 50 percent.

At the same time it was becoming clear that the executive branch was growing more politicized. A study by Princeton University concluded that career managers are more effective than their political counterparts. As more political appointees find their way into career jobs, there just might be a need for a follow-up report.