American Elephants


A No-Confidence Vote For Obama Appointees. by The Elephant's Child

A new survey shows strained relationships between senior career federal managers and executives and the political appointees with whom they work.  The study was conducted in April by Government Executive’s  research division, the Government Business Council.  It involved surveying 148 Senior Executive Service members and GS-15s about their attitudes toward current challenges and Obama administration initiatives.

Career federal executives and managers are skeptical about the ability of current political appointees to improve agency performance.  Their role, said one respondent has increased, but the effectiveness, skill and knowledge have dramatically decreased.

Obama officials don’t have either functional or agency-specific knowledge. Nearly 60 percent of respondents gave Obama appointees a grade of C or lower for their functional expertise. They don’t believe that appointees understand human resources and procurement rules, and they presume that the institution is there as “an obstruction” and attempt to “break the organizations.”

Appointees have “unbelievably poor communication with career employees,” one respondent said.  Almost 40 percent of managers gave appointees Ds or Fs on collaboration and communication with their staffs.  Some “have a divide-and-conquer strategy, and there are way too many industry fingers allowed in decision-making,” a respondent noted.  At another agency, a manager said the result has been “politicization of normal agency functions.”

At the CIA, there is an “undercurrent of dissent and dislike” for the president, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Human Events last week over the White House’s contradictory messages on the War on Terror.  At the FBI, supervisors have had it with rules of the game that favor cronies.  They are unhappy over the president’s decision to extend the term of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

At Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agents wrote a scathing letter in 2010, titled “Vote of No Confidence in ICE Director John Morton and ODPP Director Phyllis Coven” for failing to allow agents to do their jobs, because of the Latino vote.

It seems that short-term political objectives are taking precedence over the work of government.  That was our impression, and events are proving it to be true. These are problems that cannot be solved with White House imperialism. Ordering it so will not fix things. That takes leadership.




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