[Paleopsych] Government Executive: Bush and the bureaucracy: a crusade for control

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Sun Apr 10 17:08:03 UTC 2005

Bush and the bureaucracy:  a crusade for control    (3/25/05) 

DAILY BRIEFING March 25, 2005

    By Paul Singer, [2]National Journal
    [3]psinger at nationaljournal.com
    Two weeks before George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration, the Heritage
    Foundation issued a paper offering the new president advice on "taking
    charge of federal personnel."

    The authors -- two former officials at the Office of Personnel
    Management and a former congressional staffer who is now at OPM --
    laid out an ambitious agenda to overhaul civil service rules and
    "reassert managerial control of government." The paper emphasized the
    importance of appointing strong leaders to key government positions
    and holding bureaucrats "personally accountable for achievement of the
    president's election-endorsed and value-defined program."

    Reminded of this paper recently, co-author Robert Moffit, who has
    moved on to other issues at Heritage, dusted off a copy and called a
    reporter back with a hint of rejoicing in his voice. "They apparently
    are really doing this stuff," he said.

    To Moffit and other proponents of strong management, the Bush White
    House has indeed initiated a dramatic transformation of the federal
    bureaucracy, trying to create a leaner, more results-oriented
    government that can better account for taxpayer dollars. Reshaping the
    agenda of government to match the president's priorities is the
    purpose of democratic elections, Moffit said.

    But critics charge that the White House is embarking on a crusade to
    replace expert judgment in federal agencies with political
    calculation, to marginalize or eliminate longtime civil servants, to
    change laws without going through Congress, to silence dissenting
    views within the government, and to centralize decision-making in the
    White House.

    "A president cannot wave a wand and wipe prior policy, as implemented
    by duly enacted statutes, off the books," said Rena Steinzor, a
    founder and board member of the Center for Progressive Regulation, a
    think tank of liberal academics. "We have made a judgment as a nation,
    for decades, that an independent bureaucracy is very important." The
    Bush administration, she said, is "politicizing and terrorizing the
    bureaucracy, and turning it 180 degrees."

    Critics point to a long list of manifestations of greater White House
    control. Among them:
      * Reorganizations in various federal agencies, such as major staff
        cuts anticipated at NASA, that eliminate career civil service
        staff, or replace managers with political appointees;
      * New management systems to grade federal agencies on the results
        they achieve, with the White House in charge of defining
      * Increased White House oversight of regulations issued by the
        Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, and
        other departments and agencies;
      * The president's proposal to replace the civil service employment
        system with new, government-wide "pay-for-performance" rules that
        make it easier for managers to promote, reward, or fire employees;
      * "Competitive sourcing" requirements that force thousands of
        federal workers to compete against private contractors to keep
        their jobs;
      * A series of steps that may weaken traditional watchdogs and the
        office that protects whistle-blowers;
      * New restrictions on the public release of government information,
        including a huge jump in the number of documents labeled
      * A growing cadre of government employees who are going public with
        charges that their recommendations were ignored, their reports
        edited, or their conclusions reversed by their political-appointee
        managers, at the behest of the White House.

    Many presidents have tried to reshape the federal bureaucracy to their
    liking. President Nixon had his "Management by Objective" program that
    attempted to rein in anti-poverty programs; President Clinton had his
    "Reinventing Government" initiative that aimed to improve government
    services and streamline rules. But under Bush, White House control of
    the federal agencies is "more coordinated and centralized than it has
    ever been," said New York University professor of public service Paul
    Light, who is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "It
    is a sea change from what it was under the Clinton administration."

    Clay Johnson, who as deputy director for management at the Office of
    Management and Budget is the point man for Bush's "management agenda,"
    denied any "Republican conspiracy" to control the bureaucracy or
    silence civil servants. "It's about things working better; it's not
    about controlling," Johnson said. "The thing that we can impose more
    of than anything else is clarity -- clarity of purpose. We want to
    have a real clear definition of what success is," he said.

    "The overall goal of all that we are doing," Johnson added, "is, we
    want to get to the point in three or four years where we can say to
    the American taxpayer that every program is getting better every

    The federal bureaucracy is a notoriously unwieldy beast. It includes
    about 1.9 million civilian employees, many of whom have agendas that
    differ from the president's. Each administration, Republican or
    Democratic, struggles with its relationship with an army of workers
    who were on the job before the new political team arrived, and who
    expect to be there after the team leaves.

    "You have this bizarre cycle, where the leader comes into the room and
    says, 'We are going to march north,' and the bureaucracy all applaud,"
    said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. "Then the leader leaves
    the room, and the bureaucracy says, 'Yeah, well, this "march north"
    thing is terrific, but this year, to be practical, we have to keep
    marching south. But what we'll do is, we'll hire a consultant to study
    marching north, so that next year we can begin to think about whether
    or not we can do it.' "

    The White House is proud of its management initiatives and Bush's
    reputation as "the M.B.A. president." The administration regularly
    issues press releases to announce progress on the President's
    Management Agenda -- a list of priorities that includes competitive
    sourcing and development of "e-government." And Bush's fiscal 2006
    budget includes cuts based on performance assessments for hundreds of
    individual federal programs. But critics fear that the management
    agenda, combined with an array of other administration initiatives,
    has established a framework that makes it easier for political
    appointees to overrule, marginalize, or even fire career employees who
    question the president's agenda.

    For example, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule earlier
    this month to regulate emissions of mercury from power plants. In
    unveiling the rule, the EPA asserted that it represents the most
    stringent controls on mercury ever issued. According to the agency,
    the requirements are cost-effective, will achieve significant health
    benefits, and will create an economic incentive for companies to
    continually improve their environmental performance.

    But the rule is driven by the Bush administration's novel -- some say,
    illegal -- interpretation of the Clean Air Act that allows the EPA to
    avoid imposing mandatory emissions controls on each facility.
    Environmentalists, and some EPA staff, contend that the mercury rule
    is far weaker than one the Clinton administration proposed, and that
    political appointees at the agency ignored the scientific and legal
    judgment of career staff to push the rule through the regulatory

    The battle over the mercury rule has been bitter and public. Many
    other efforts to tighten central control are buried deep within the
    bowels of the bureaucracy.


    The Natural Resources Conservation Service is not generally a
    political hotbed. A division of the Agriculture Department, the NRCS
    -- working through "conservationist" offices in each state -- is
    responsible for helping farmers implement soil and water conservation
    measures, such as restoring wetlands, building dams, and designing
    systems to prevent animal waste from running off into waterways.

    In a major reorganization over the past two years, NRCS chief Bruce
    Knight eliminated the service's six regional offices, which were
    headed by career managers and oversaw the state offices. He replaced
    the six regional managers with three political appointees in
    Washington and shuffled 200 career staffers from the regional offices
    into other offices throughout the agency.

    Knight said the reorganization is "really just a strong business
    case." It created a "flatter, leaner structure" that relies much more
    heavily on the expertise of the state conservationists and makes
    better use of employees, he said. "I had about 200 highly valuable
    [employees] scattered around the country, and I needed to put them at
    the mission of the agency."

    But in so doing, Knight has also raised concerns about the
    independence of the technical staffers who oversee conservation
    measures across the country.

    Under the new structure, career NRCS scientists might worry that their
    technical decisions about where to spend money and how to implement
    programs will be overruled for political purposes, said Rich
    Duesterhaus, a former NRCS staffer and now director of government
    affairs for the National Association of Conservation Districts.

    "They clearly now have a direct line from the politically appointed
    chief, through these three politically appointed regional assistant
    chiefs, to the line officers who supervise and carry out these
    programs," Duesterhaus said. And why should political control over a
    soil and water conservation agency matter? Because the 2002 farm bill
    doubled the NRCS's budget for assistance to farmers, from about $1.5
    billion in 2001 to $2.8 billion in 2006, with a total increase of $18
    billion slated through 2012.

    "In the old days, the money wasn't big enough to matter," Duesterhaus
    said, but the influx of cash in 2002 has made the NRCS "a contender in
    terms of spoils, and where those spoils go becomes an issue." With
    direct political oversight of the state conservationists, Duesterhaus
    said, "it becomes a little easier to say, 'Well, we need Ohio, so make
    sure we put a little extra money in Ohio.' "

    Earlier this month, Charles Adams, one of the six career regional
    conservationists who were unseated in the reorganization, filed a
    discrimination complaint against Knight and other agency officials,
    arguing that the reorganization derailed his 37-year career in favor
    of three political appointees with far less expertise. "I allege that
    ... a calculated, arbitrary, and capricious decision was made to
    preclude me from the line and leadership of this agency," Adams wrote
    in his complaint to the Agriculture Department's Office of Civil

    Knight rejects any suggestion that he has politicized the work of a
    technical agency. "The real power is in the state conservationist, the
    career individual in the state who manages the budget and the people,"
    he said. "Most people will agree that we are more scientifically and
    technologically based now" than before the reorganization. The agency
    has about 12,500 staff members and only a dozen political appointees,
    Knight said.

    But employees in other federal agencies have also asserted that
    reorganization plans have bumped career managers from senior
    positions, or diluted their authority.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instituting a major
    overhaul that will create a new layer of "coordinating centers" --
    including a strategic center responsible for developing long-term
    goals for the agency -- between CDC Director Julie Gerberding and the
    health and science centers that formerly reported directly to her.
    Gerberding said, "I don't think our goal is to have control over the
    organization -- our goal is to have an impact on health."

    But some career staffers say they are being pushed aside and losing
    the ability to manage their programs. The Washington Post earlier this
    month reported a memo from a top CDC official warning that CDC
    employees are suffering a "crisis of confidence" and that they feel
    "cowed into silence." CDC aides -- who are unwilling to have their
    names published for fear of reprisals -- say they are losing the
    ability to make independent professional judgments on topics ranging
    from sexual abstinence, to drug use, to influenza. Gerberding replied,
    "I think that is a very inaccurate assessment of what is going on at

    Nevertheless, throughout the federal government, complaints can be
    heard from disgruntled civil servants who feel they are being elbowed
    aside by the political leadership -- though it is hard to assess
    whether the invariably anonymous sources have been targeted for
    elimination or are simply frightened of the change.

    Some of the administration's efforts have attracted congressional
    scrutiny. On March 16, the House Science panel's Space and Aeronautics
    Subcommittee held a hearing on the administration's plan to slash
    funding for aeronautics research at NASA and to eliminate 2,000 jobs
    in order to focus the agency on the president's "Vision for Space
    Exploration," which includes the goal of manned missions to Mars.

    But the administration is not backing down. In fact, it wants more
    authority to carry out these reorganizations. The White House has said
    it is drafting legislative proposals to create a "sunset" process
    requiring federal programs to rejustify their existence every 10 years
    and to set up "reform" commissions giving the president authority to
    initiate major restructuring of programs. House Government Reform
    Committee Chairman Tom Davis
    , R-Va., said in an interview this month that he believes that
    Congress should restore the president's unilateral authority to
    reorganize executive branch agencies -- authority that presidents held
    from the late 1930s until 1984, and that Nixon used when he created
    the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.


    Beyond its tinkering with organizational structures, the White House
    is pursuing a sweeping overhaul of personnel rules that is aimed at
    giving managers across the federal government more flexibility to
    promote, punish, or fire hundreds of thousands of civil servants.
    While a proposed transformation of the pay systems at the Defense and
    Homeland Security departments has spurred vigorous debate -- fueled by
    the administration's announcement in January that it wants to extend
    these systems to the rest of the federal government -- less fanfare
    attended last year's rollout of a new pay-for-performance plan for the
    roughly 6,000 veteran federal government managers who constitute the
    Senior Executive Service.

    Together, the two new approaches give political appointees in federal
    agencies greater authority to reward or discipline senior career
    managers, and give managers the same authority over the civil servants
    below them. The White House calls this a "modern" personnel system,
    where everyone is judged on results. Critics call it a process for
    weeding out recalcitrant civil servants or political opponents.

    The new pay-for-performance plan for the Senior Executive Service
    eliminates annual raises for top career managers and replaces them
    with a system of merit ratings. Some career executives fear that the
    system will allow the White House to simply push aside managers who
    are unenthusiastic about the president's agenda.

    "We all know that performance is in the eyes of the beholder, no
    matter what you say about wanting to have many numerical indicators
    and so forth," said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives
    Association, which represents members of the SES. "The concern is that
    if you know that your boss has the total authority to not give you a
    pay raise, are you going to be more inclined to skirt an ethics
    requirement for them? Are you going to be more inclined to do what is
    perhaps not really right?"

    And the layers of performance ratings based on the president's goals
    serve to reinforce the agenda throughout the bureaucracy, Bonosaro
    said. "You kick the general, and the general comes back and kicks the
    soldiers, and it goes down the line."

    In another move, which could affect thousands of civil servants, Bush
    has made "competitive sourcing" one of his primary management goals
    for federal agencies, requiring government workers to compete for
    their jobs against private contractors.

    In January, OMB reported that government employees had won about 90
    percent of the 30,000 jobs awarded in 2003 and 2004, with decisions
    still to be made on about 15,000 jobs offered for competition in those
    years. But in February, the Federal Aviation Administration announced
    that Lockheed Martin had won the government's largest-ever job
    competition, covering about 2,300 flight-service jobs. FAA workers
    slated to be displaced under the contract filed an appeal this month,
    complaining that the agency's bidding process was flawed.

    "Everything they do is sending the signal [to employees] that they can
    be replaced easily by contractors, if the work they do isn't done by
    whatever standards the president is going to put out in his new
    measurement system," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National
    Treasury Employees Union.

    "It's all about putting more power in the hands of the appointees and
    making it easier to downgrade, get rid of, use the rules as a weapon
    against employees who are not in lockstep with you," said Mark Roth,
    general counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees.

    OMB's Johnson denies any intent to enforce political orthodoxy on the
    civil service. "Rewarding people for their political views is against
    the law. It's like incest: verboten. Not allowed. Doesn't happen,"
    Johnson said.

    "You are being encouraged, and evaluated, and mentored, and managed,
    and held accountable for doing things that the administration
    considers to be important," he said. "That does not mean vote
    Republican versus Democrat; that doesn't mean be pro-life or
    pro-choice, or be for strict-constructionist judges, or be against
    strict-constructionist judges," Johnson contended.

    "We are controlling what the definition of success is, but shame on us
    if that's a bad idea. I think it's a really good idea," Johnson said.
    "It is a mind-set and an approach, and it is a focus on results that
    [the president] is imposing. It's not 'I want everyone to be like me
    and have the same political beliefs as me.' "

    Checks and Balances

    But what if "incest" does happen? Where would a civil servant go to
    report "verboten" behavior?

    Critics of the administration charge that the White House is tampering
    with the independent structures that protect against waste, fraud,
    abuse, and political retribution -- the federal inspectors general and
    the Office of General Counsel. The White House vehemently denies the

    Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Government
    Reform Committee, issued a report last October -- and updated it in
    January -- declaring that the Bush administration was appointing
    inspectors general with political connections to the White House much
    more frequently than the Clinton administration did. Working with a
    very small sample -- 11 IGs appointed by Bush, 32 appointed by Clinton
    -- Waxman's report concludes that 64 percent of the Bush appointees
    had political experience on their resumes, and only 18 percent had
    audit experience. For the Clinton appointees, the ratios were
    reversed: 22 percent had political backgrounds, 66 percent had audit

    Gaston Gianni, who until his retirement in December was the
    Clinton-appointed inspector general at the Federal Deposit Insurance
    Corporation and vice chairman of the President's Council on Integrity
    and Efficiency -- an IG professional group -- said, "I've read the
    Waxman report. Factually, it's correct. The conclusions, I don't think
    flow from the facts."

    Gianni said it is true that the Bush administration is favoring
    political background rather than investigative experience in
    appointing IGs, but he said there is no evidence that the people Bush
    has appointed have any less independence or zeal for their work.

    Nevertheless, Gianni said, the practice worries him. "The environment
    is such, as we go forward, that the perception will be that, rather
    than 'small-p' political appointees, they are going to become
    'capital-P' Political appointees. Even though nothing else has
    changed, that is what the perception will be."

    Steinzor and NYU's Light agree that the White House has generally sent
    the message to inspectors that an excess of independence may be bad
    for their careers.

    Last July, Johnson and Gianni signed a memo to inspectors general and
    agency heads, spelling out the "working relationship principles" for
    both positions and emphasizing the need for mutual respect,
    objectivity, and communication between an IG and his or her agency
    head. Johnson serves as the chairman of the president's council on
    integrity, and the memo was his idea. Some critics read it as a
    warning to IGs not to be too aggressive, but Johnson denies any such

    "The IGs should not be, by definition, adversarial agents," Johnson
    said. "They are there to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. The heads of
    agency are there to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. The IGs, by
    definition, are for positive change.... Where you get into
    disagreements is when somebody tries to constantly play 'gotcha,' or
    where the IG gets a little too enamored of their independent status
    and tries to do things in a negative fashion, tries to uproot things,
    or identify things that will hurt the agency," he said. "The IG is
    there to help the agency."

    Johnson said that he had recommended the "relationship principles" to
    the professional group, but that IGs and agency officials drafted the

    Light said there is nothing untoward about principles extolling the
    virtues of communication and common decency, but he argued that the
    memo -- together with the pattern noted in the Waxman report and some
    high-profile firings of IGs early in the Bush administration -- sets a
    tone that may have a chilling effect on inspectors.

    Johnson dismisses this concern. "I don't think there is any
    information that suggests that the IGs are less critical than they
    have been. I don't think there is anything that says they are finding
    less waste, fraud, and abuse, that they are being less effective IGs
    as a result of this 'Republican conspiracy.' "

    The Office of Special Counsel is a bigger concern for administration
    critics. Established as an independent agency charged with protecting
    whistle-blowers and civil servants who are mistreated for political or
    other reasons unconnected with their performance, the office is in a
    bitter feud with several of its employees who argue that they are
    being punished for resisting attempts by Bush's appointee to dismantle
    the operation.

    Among other things, current and former employees charge that Special
    Counsel Scott Bloch has summarily dismissed hundreds of whistle-blower
    complaints, instigated a reorganization of the office that will
    significantly increase political control of investigations, and forced
    senior staff members critical of his work to choose between relocating
    to regional offices or being fired. Several anonymous employees,
    joined by four public-interest groups, filed formal charges against
    Bloch on March 3, and at least half a dozen staff members have
    resigned or been fired for refusing to relocate.

    Bloch characterizes the complaints against his office as the work of a
    few disgruntled employees, reinforced by groups that are on a mission
    to embarrass the White House. Together, these critics are "going out
    and making reckless allegations that have no truth. They don't like
    the success Bush officials are having in dealing with the
    bureaucracy," Bloch said. "They don't want a Bush appointee like
    myself to get credit" for reducing a large backlog of old cases that
    were languishing when Bloch took office in 2004. "We have doubled our
    enforcement over prior years in all areas," Bloch said. His critics
    "hurl accusations at the office and basically say insulting things
    about their fellow employees, and they are false."

    Levers of Government

    An Interior Department official who has worked in the federal
    government for 30 years denied that the White House is trying to
    marginalize the civil service, arguing that what people are seeing is
    simply better executive management from the White House.

    "This administration runs a more effective management of the
    government than did the previous administration, which was a lot more
    loosey-goosey," this person said, requesting anonymity to speak freely
    about his bosses. "They bring more of a business mind-set, but I don't
    think that's a particularly bad thing. They are more organized, and
    they are smart about it."

    The sharper management focus extends into the minutiae of government,
    giving the White House oversight and control of the executive branch
    at several levels. In some cases, the Bush administration is creating
    new approaches, but in most cases, officials are simply using
    authorities created under prior administrations and applying them more

    For example, Clinton issued a regulatory-review executive order in
    1993, charging OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs with
    ensuring that regulations "are consistent with applicable law [and]
    the president's priorities." The order emphasized use of the best
    available science and the most cost-effective approach to regulations.

    The Bush administration has built on this executive order, setting new
    requirements for reviewing the costs and benefits of regulatory
    proposals, establishing a higher threshold for reaching scientific
    certainty in regulatory decisions, and creating new opportunities for
    outside experts to challenge the government's conclusions about the
    dangers that a rule is designed to mitigate.

    A regulatory agency career official who demanded anonymity said that
    OIRA, under the Bush administration, is "much more active" in the
    regulatory process. "They get involved much earlier in the process on
    large rules," the official said. "They are reviewing drafts of
    preambles as they are being written for some rules, or sections of

    The executive order gives OMB 90 days to review agency rules, but OIRA
    Administrator John Graham said in an e-mail response to a reporter's
    query: "During an important rule-making, OIRA may work informally with
    agencies at the early stages of the rule-making. This early OIRA
    participation is designed to make sure that our benefit-cost
    perspective receives a fair hearing, before key decisions are made and
    final documents are drafted."

    Graham added, "A key benefit of early OIRA involvement is that the
    pace of rule-making is accelerated by building consensus early in the
    process and avoiding contentious delays beyond the 90-day review
    period." He said that the majority of OMB staffers are career civil
    servants with significant expertise in their issue areas and that,
    contrary to the assumptions of many critics, OMB involvement does not
    always result in an outcome that is more favorable to industry. For
    example, he said, OMB initiated a Food and Drug Administration
    rule-making to require that producers add the trans-fat content of
    foods to nutritional labels.

    Sally Katzen, who held both John Graham's job and Clay Johnson's job
    during her years in the Clinton administration, said, "There is
    nothing wrong with more-centralized review, guidance, and oversight.
    It is, after all, a president -- singular -- who is the head of the
    executive branch." But, she cautioned, "the problems we face are often
    highly technical or otherwise highly complicated, and those who serve
    in the White House or OMB do not have all the answers. And they
    certainly don't have the manpower, the expertise, or the intimate
    familiarity with the underlying detail. They cannot -- and, in my
    mind, should not -- replace the agency expertise, the agency
    knowledge, and the agency experience."

    While OIRA serves as the central regulatory-review office for the
    White House, OMB has also positioned itself as the central
    performance-accountability office, with the establishment of the
    "President's Management Agenda" and the Program Assessment Rating
    Tool, or PART, under which the White House grades every agency and
    program on the basis of its management activities and real-world
    results. After several years of conducting the assessments without
    imposing any real consequences for failure, the administration, in the
    first budget proposal of Bush's second term, used the results
    assessments to justify eliminating or significantly reducing funding
    for about 150 federal programs.

    John Kamensky, who was deputy director of the National Performance
    Review (the "reinventing government" initiative) in the Clinton
    administration, said that Bush's White House is, in many ways, simply
    expanding on efforts begun in the previous administration.

    "We had proposed, in the Clinton administration, tying performance to
    budget, but there wasn't enough performance information to do that.
    The Bush administration has that information, finally, so it's sort of
    a natural progression," Kamensky said.

    But critics worry that the review process gives the administration the
    opportunity to establish its own measures of success for programs,
    without taking into account the requirements established by Congress.

    For example, OMB's review declared the Housing and Urban Development
    Department's Community Development Block Grant program "ineffective,"
    charging that its mission is unclear, it has few measures of success,
    and it "does not effectively target funds to the most-needy

    But a study by a National Academy of Public Administration panel in
    February disputed OMB's assessment. The program's "statutory mission
    or purpose seems clear," the panel said. As a block grant, CDBG is
    able to fund a broad range of community-development functions, and "if
    the CDBG program lacks clarity, it is likely because the statute
    intended it so," according to the report. The breadth of the program's
    activities makes it difficult to provide specific measures of success,
    the panel concluded, and the White House suggestion that funding be
    geographically targeted "seems to contradict the statute's intent."

    Donald Plusquellic, mayor of Akron, Ohio, and president of the U.S.
    Conference of Mayors, defends the CDBG program. "I can evaluate
    anything as a failure if I get to set up the standards," he said.

    Johnson acknowledges that CDBG fails the test in part because the
    administration is applying a new definition of success. "We believe
    the goal of housing programs is not just to build houses, but the
    economic development that comes with them. So those are the results we
    want to focus on," Johnson said. "You can say we are imposing our
    political views on people, or our favored views of the housing world
    or the CDBG world on people. Well, guilty as charged. It's important
    to focus on outcomes, not outputs."

    The president has proposed to eliminate the $4 billion block-grant
    program and shift its functions into a new community and economic
    development initiative in the Commerce Department. The Senate voted
    66-32 last week for a budget amendment designed to block the
    administration plan.

    NYU's Light says the administration has instituted a host of other
    procedures that centralize power in the White House, ranging from a
    vetting process for political appointees that allows little
    independent decision-making for Cabinet officials, to regular
    conference calls between the White House and the agency chiefs of
    staff that help to "focus [the staffers'] attention up Pennsylvania
    Avenue to the White House, and away from down in your department."

    But is that a bad thing? The Heritage Foundation's Moffit doesn't
    think so. "Why would that be anything other than 100 percent
    American?" Moffit asks. "I elected a president, and I expect the
    president to run the executive branch of the government. And there is
    an issue about whether he is? That's absurd."

    The role of the civil service is "to make the car run," Moffit said.
    "And if they have been driving the car east for the past 25 years of
    their professional life, but the president says, 'Fine, I know you've
    been going east, but now we're going to go west; you're going to do a
    180-degree turn and go in exactly the opposite direction,' their job
    is to make sure the car goes exactly in the opposite direction. Nobody
    elected them to do anything else."

    Roth of the American Federation of Government Employees disagrees.
    "You do not entirely change your entire focus every time a president
    is elected, because it is not the job of the president to pass the
    laws. It is the job of the president to execute the laws," Roth said.
    "These laws are on the books, these programs are in regulations." An
    administration "can't just say, 'We don't like it, so don't do it.' "


    2. http://nationaljournal.com/
    3. mailto:psinger at nationaljournal.com

More information about the paleopsych mailing list