Today President Joe Biden revoked the Executive Order establishing Schedule F in the excepted service. The president’s order also canceled three Executive Orders that undermined collective bargaining, made it more difficult for unions to operate, and restricted due process rights for employees. The president had already eliminated the Executive Order that severely restricted diversity and inclusion training. All 5 Executive Orders were widely viewed as hostile to the career civil service.
In two days President Biden has eliminated the five Executive Orders that were the biggest threat to the effective functioning of the career civil service. That the president chose to take these actions in his first days in office says a lot about his approach to the civil service. President Biden himself, in a video for all career civil servants, made it clear that he believes the career staff are a critical part of his team.
I have been concerned in recent years that the constant attacks on the merit-based civil service and the men and women who serve have taken a toll. They undermined hiring efforts, caused a drain of talent, hollowed out the workforce in some agencies, and sent the message that working for the federal government is a waste of time. These initial steps by President Biden are just that — initial steps — that begin the process of rebuilding the career civil service. As these efforts continue, we should see more talented people having an interest in serving in government, and the existing workers should see that they are no longer the targets of the agencies that employ them. It is a great start, and provides a basis for optimism that the guardrails of merit held and the merit-based civil service will be able to thrive and continue to serve the American people.