August 12, 2022

Schedule F: An Unwelcome Resurgence

By Loren DeJonge Schulman

A controversial federal workforce policy from the Trump administration is back in the headlines as the former president and several members of Congress propose resurrecting it in future administrations. Schedule F, proposed in an executive order in October 2020, had attempted to institute radical alterations to the federal civil service by exempting policy-oriented roles from the civil service’s competitive hiring rules and protections around adverse actions such as firing. Just months away from the end of that administration, the plan fizzled after a great deal of frenzied agency activity and negative public scrutiny, but no permanent changes to the federal workforce. President Biden officially rescinded the order in January 2021, stating that career civil servants “are the backbone of the federal workforce” and that it is the policy of the United States to “protect, empower, and rebuild the career federal workforce.”

The U.S. government is able to take on high-risk, high-cost ventures—nuclear security, pandemic response, environmental clean-up, food safety, and more—because civil servants are hired based on qualifications, not party affiliation.

But the idea stayed alive among former Trump administration officials and, as recently reported by Jonathan Swan of Axios, has become both a key facet of the former president’s plan for a second term and a generally supported position among other 2024 presidential hopefuls in the Republican Party. While some of the policy’s supporters have described their interest as driven by a desire to “hold the D.C. bureaucracy accountable,” others in the former president’s camp are reportedly open about their desire to purge an estimated more than 50,000 civil servant positions and replace these career posts with party loyalists, consistent with the former president’s long-standing frustrations with the career workforce.

Read the full article from Lawfare.

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