October 29, 2020
The American Society for Public Administration, the nation's leading professional association for the practice and study of public administration, has issued the following statement and resolution on Presidential Executive Order 13957.
As reported extensively, Executive Order 13957 establishes a new classification of federal employees and allows agency heads to decide which positions will be placed in it. The result: A large number of federal employees are at risk of being stripped of their civil service protections and subject to political review and dismissal for any reason. The order is scheduled to take effect following a 90-day agency review: January 19, the day before the presidential inauguration.
Representing more than 10,000 members and partners, the ASPA National Council—the organization's board of directors—calls for an immediate repeal of the executive order. Failing that step, it urges Congress to swiftly exercise its oversight and legal responsibilities to resist this action, which puts at risk the careers and wellbeing of much of the two million person-strong federal civilian workforce.
"Just as our profession stands on the four pillars of efficiency, effectiveness, economy and equity, our federal government stands on a strong, non-partisan civil service to do the public good," ASPA President Kendra Stewart said. "This executive order is contrary to what effective government stands for. Merit and impartiality have been the hallmarks of a professional public service for more than 100 years. This order was issued without stakeholder consultation, but drafted with exceptional vagueness, leaving thousands upon thousands of professionals at risk of immediate dismissal without due process."
The National Council approved the following resolution:
WHEREAS, the American Society for Public Administration has stood at the forefront of leading and advancing the highest standards of professionalism, ethical behavior and transparency in government, both in the United States and abroad, for more than 80 years; and
WHEREAS, the effectiveness of the U.S. national government is grounded in an experienced and professional workforce comprising more than 2.1 million dedicated individuals, a career civil service whose sole mission—serving the American people effectively, efficiently and equitably—transcends presidential administrations and provides a level of expertise and commitment that our nation expects and deserves; and
WHEREAS, the strength of the U.S. government's career civil service resides in the laws and traditions that ensure merit and expertise—not political expediency or favoritism—that have been a hallmark of the federal workforce for more than a century; and
WHEREAS, Presidential Executive Order 13957, signed October 21, established a new federal classification—Schedule F—that strikes at the heart of the laws and principles on which the federal civil service was founded and has stood for generations; and
WHEREAS, this Executive Order places at grave risk the ability of tens of thousands of federal employees to do their jobs competently and effectively—free of political favor and without risk of political reprisal—and strips away the employment protections and due process that existing law provides them;
NOW, THEREFORE, the elected National Council of the American Society for Public Administration urges most strongly that Executive Order 13957 be withdrawn and, if not, that Congress exercise its oversight and legal responsibilities to swiftly resist this destructive action that will cause irreparable harm to the work, careers and lives of those dedicated to serving the public good.