Trump executive orders sound alarm bells in Washington’s bureaucracy

by WorldTribune Staff, May 27, 2018

President Donald Trump on May 25 signed executive orders making it easier to fire federal workers and demanding transparency in taxpayer-funded union activities.

Draining the swamp: President Donald Trump. / Reuters

“These executive orders will make it easier for agencies to remove poor performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used,” Andrew Bremberg, Trump’s chief domestic policy adviser, told reporters at a briefing.

While Trump was following through on his pledge to reign in the powerful inside-the-beltway bureaucracy, the bureaucracy responded with outrage.

“This is more than union busting. It’s democracy busting,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “These executive orders are a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress has specifically guaranteed to the 2 million public-sector employees across the country who work for the federal government.”

The National Treasury Employees Union, the second-largest federal labor organization, said the orders amount to an “assault on federal employees, the nation’s civil service laws and federal unions.”

“This would begin the process of dismantling the merit system that governs our civil service,” the NTEU said in a statement.

According to, one of the orders issued by Trump on May 25 included “procedural changes to strengthen the merit system and streamline the removal of poor performers.”

The White House said the “current system makes firing bad employees prohibitively difficult, undermining the Federal Government’s merit principles that call for removing poor performers,” noting that currently “It takes 6 months to 1 year to remove a tenured Federal employee for poor performance, plus an average of 8 more months to resolve appeals. Tenured Federal employees are also 44 times less likely to get fired or laid off than private sector workers.”

“To empower our civil servants to best help others, the government must always operate more efficiently and more securely,” Trump said in issuing the orders.

The White House said the order “facilitates the efficient removal of bad employees and makes it hard for those employees to mask adverse employment information when seeking re-employment at another agency, while upholding Federal merit principles.”

Trump also signed an order requiring agencies to “negotiate better union contracts in a more efficient and transparent manner.”

The White House said the order “directs agencies to negotiate better contracts with Federal unions, holds down costs, promotes performance and accountability, and creates a Labor Relations Working Group. It will eliminate years of costly drawn-out bargaining by encouraging agencies to conclude labor negotiations in less than a year.”

The order noted that “Agencies pay for union negotiators’ salaries, so it hurts taxpayers when bargaining drags on for years. The salaries for union negotiators cost $16 million in 2016 alone. Americans will now be able to gauge for themselves whether they got a good deal. The order requires union contracts to be published in a public online database, promoting transparency.”

A third executive order calls for “reducing spending on taxpayer-funded union activities.”

The order “directs agencies to work on renegotiating contracts to cut taxpayer-funded union time by an average of two-thirds, reducing union business interfering with agency operations.”

The White House said “The Social Security Administration estimates it could complete 135,000 more retirement applications or 17,000 more disability determinations annually, if taxpayer funding for union activities were redirected to public service functions.”

The order also “cuts back on lobbying or pursuing a grievance against an agency on taxpayer-funded union time. Taxpayers should not pay for unions to sue or lobby the government.”

The White House said “this order will save taxpayers at least $100 million a year, when fully implemented.”

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