May 21, 2024
The EPA didn't want to follow President Trump's order to create a new classification of federal employees that would have been easier to fire after under Schedule F.

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A government watchdog says the Environmental Protection Agency purposefully ignored an executive order from former President Trump to restructure the federal workforce because EPA employees would have been “upset.”

Just before Trump left office, he signed an executive order creating a new classification of federal employee known as Schedule F. Employees classified under Schedule F would have been much easier to fire and discipline – the system was aimed at making the federal workforce more accountable to political leaders and reflected GOP complaints that too many federal employees were resisting Trump’s policy prescriptions.

This week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on the implementation of Schedule F that bore out those GOP complaints. That report said only 15 federal agencies made any effort to implement Trump’s order before Biden revoked it during his first week in office, and that the EPA purposefully decided not to implement it to protect its employees.

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Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Donald Trump and Joe Biden (James Devaney/GC Images  |  Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“EPA officials stated that they did not have time to do the extensive work required to finalize their petition, and did not know if the E.O. would be applicable under the new administration,” GAO reported. “They also said their employees would be upset if they learned that EPA was submitting a petition.”

Under Trump’s order, federal agencies were asked to identify federal workers suitable for classification under Schedule F and then petition the White House to make that classification change. The order was expected to reclassify as many as 50,000 federal employees under Schedule F.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

GAO found other examples of the federal bureaucracy’s lackluster response to the Trump initiative. Its report said four other federal agencies never sent in a petition and were still in the process of reviewing which employees might be reclassified by the time the Biden administration shut down Trump’s order.

AmeriCorps and five other agencies said they determined they didn’t have any federal workers that fit the criteria for including in Schedule F. AmeriCorps, an agency founded by former President Bill Clinton that works to increase civic engagement through “service and volunteering,” said it “did not need the hiring or removal exceptions provided under Schedule F.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 22, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 22, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Only the White House Office of Management and Budget and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) submitted formal petitions to reclassify workers under Schedule F. OMB suggested placing 140 employees into that schedule, and the IBWC suggested five employees, just 2% of that agency’s workforce.

Trump has since indicated that if he were to retake the White House in 2024, he would push harder to implement a new Schedule F for federal workers. In response, the Democrat-led House passed legislation this month that prevents the White House from unilaterally restructuring the federal workforce, but GOP opposition will make it difficult to pass that bill in the Senate.