House Committee Seeks Answers on Political Appointee Conversions
In a letter to Acting Director Beth Cobert of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week requested details regarding how many political appointees have been converted to career positions since September of last year.
The letter opened by stating that it had previously requested assistance from OPM in an effort to better understand the conversions. It read:
“Such conversions, or burrowing, run the risk of overlooking more qualified career applicants. The Office of Personnel Management and appointing agencies must ensure each conversion of a political appointee to a career position results from a fair and open competition. Hiring decisions must be free from political interference, legitimate, and justified.”
In addition to the number of converted positions, the committee requested, “all documents, including emails, that explain the outcome of each pre-employment review, an explanation for each case not approved, and all connective action requested by OPM of appointing agencies,” and “all documents which show a list of each political appointee converted to a career senior executive or non-political excepted service position for which the appointing agency did not provide sufficient information to justify the employment action.”
OPM is in charge of reviewing these appointments, and while conversations are permissible when done under the appropriate laws and regulations, critics of the process highlight that these conversations often take place during the transitional period of an outgoing administration.
Posted in From the Hill