Federal Employees Say Inept Obama Officials Politicize Their Agencies

by Ben Johnson

Barack Obama’s political appointees are inept, incapable, and needlessly politicize the basic functions of whole segments of the federal government. That is not the assessment of firebrand conservatives but the result of a recent survey of high-placed career federal employees.

The survey, conducted by the Government Business Council, polled 148 Senior Executive Service members. These federal managers ranked Obama’s political appointees at only 2.0, down from the 2.3 rating enjoyed by the Clinton and Bush administrations. At least 10 percent more managers gave Obama’s appointees a D or F than failed Bush or Clinton’s teams. National Journal reports 20 percent gave such low marks to Clinton/Bush, as opposed to “more than 30 percent” for Obama.

More damning than the dry statistical data are the descriptions of federal employees of Obama’s team. According to one manager the political appointees are far more involved in day-to-day affairs, but “the effectiveness, skill and knowledge has dramatically decreased” since January 2009. Some said Obama’s appointees attempt to “break organizations.” One said the administration’s overseers “have a divide-and-conquer strategy, and there are way too many industry fingers allowed in decision-making.” Another said this led to “politicization of normal agency functions.”

The survey comes on the heels of remarks by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-MI, who said CIA employees have a strong current of “dissent and dislike,” because of the administration’s decision to have Eric Holder investigate CIA interrogators.

Hoekstra apparently did not touch upon it, but members of The Agency may also resent the fact that its members obtained the information that led authorities to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden only to have the commander-in-chief sit on the information for months, set a date for a decision, dither an additional 16 hours, hit the golf links as Navy SEALs pulled off the perilous mission, then claim credit for the entire operation on national television – using the address to shill against the enhanced interrogation techniques that made the mission possible in the first place.

Minor things like this tend to grate on employees.

The ranking of career federal employees is usually of little interest to thinking people. The professional bureaucrats, protected by public sector unions, know they are a power unto themselves. They often craft their own policy by waiting out an unfriendly president, perhaps even a two-term president, because they will still be at the cabinet’s controls when the political leadership is long gone. They are particularly hostile to budget-cutters whose frugality threatens their way of life. As they are represented by unions such as the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), they tend to vote Democratic.

This survey is significant, because none of these criteria apply to the Obama administration.

Obama proposed a two-year freeze on federal salaries last November and a general hiring moratorium  only after adding more than 27,000 new, full-time, non-seasonal employees to the federal payroll during his first two years in office and extending some benefits to same-sex “partners” of federal workers. He increased federal pay as the private sector tightened its belt, to the point that more than 77,000 federal workers now make more money than the governors of the states where they work. Over the last two years, the number of federally owned limousines has increased 73 percent. Obama can hardly be accused of being insufficiently attentive to growing the public sector.

That means if federal employees are unhappy with Obama officials, it is because the political leadership is heavy-handed, corrupt, and inept.

There is no doubt the Obama administration represents the apogee of politicizing the government’s most basic functions. The Associated Press reported earlier this year when federal officials received Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, “Career employees were ordered to provide political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived and whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.” Conservatives making FOIA requests have waited as long as six months or received no response whatever, while liberals received prompt responses.  Rep. Darrell Issa accused the Obama administration of punishing Catherine Papoi, a whistleblower who accused the Department of Homeland Security of “hundreds” of cases of illegal stonewalling.  Although the Obama administration is withholding documents about Elena Kagan’s role in defending ObamaCare, evidence has emerged that suggests her role as Solicitor General constitutes a conflict of interest that demands her recusal.

Perhaps more obvious is the pressure to dismiss the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party, when two Panthers threatened white voters in Philadelphia with nightsticks. Obama’s Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez may have perjured himself when he told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights the dismissal constituted “a case of career people disagreeing with career people.” An investigation from Judicial Watch subsequently proved political appointees Steve Rosenbaum and Sam Hirsch were deeply involved in the process. Hirsch has a long history of opposing anti-voter fraud measures.  Eric Holder’s DoJ has dug in, the Civil Rights Commission has been reshuffled, and nothing is being done on this front.

This author was the first conservative to report Obama’s plan to rule by decree beginning in 2011 — using executive orders, federal regulations, and departmental rules to advance his far-Left, anti-family agenda. This hampers not only the good operation of the department but the good of the nation.

Many of those appointed to carry his water have no practical experience leading employees. Their primary background has been as political extremists. Others must remain loyal to the president – who has virtually no experience in anything except delivering speeches, belittling his political opponents, and abusing power.

Surveys such as this prove it is not merely conservatives or extremists who recognize how far our country has declined in two short years.