Rapid-fire firing plan: Now what?

Question: What do federal/postal workers have in common with folks in both North and South Korea? Here’s a hint: Insecurity is a shared trait.

The answer — both groups have got to be wondering what’s next, as in, will the future be better, worse or about the same?

The Korean situation is complicated or simple, depending on which expert (Fox News or MSNBC) you consult. We will know if the June 12 on-again-off-again Singapore summit happens or not, fairly soon, maybe?

The civil service timetable is a little more complicated and also potentially explosive, but in a different way.

In the news business the best way to bury a story is to release or leak it on the Friday afternoon before a major national holiday. Such was the case this Memorial Day weekend when three executive orders designed to whip the bureaucracy in shape were issued Friday afternoon via a telephone conference call with reporters.

Short of covering it with a tarp under a bridge at night, it is hard to get less media exposure. Nevertheless, the story made the front page of Saturday editions of The Washington Post and The New York Times. But it probably was not the topic of conversation in most places the next morning.

Not like the Stanley Cup, volcanoes in Hawaii, floods in Maryland or the NBA Finals.

One of the EOs signed on Friday makes it easier to fire poor-performing feds and harder for them to bury their poor-performance histories when looking for another government job. Reporters were told it takes six to 12 months to fire feds for misconduct with another eight months tacked on while they appeal. If true, that’s a lot of salary money.

The second slashes the amount of official time feds can be paid for doing union-related assignments. The White House said taxpayers shell out $100 million a year in salaries for employee union reps who are conducting contract related matters. If that figure is accurate, it means that unions would have to shell out that much money each year to continue business as usual — money they don’t have.

As an example, the White House cited 470 Veterans Affairs Department workers who, it said, spent 100 percent of their time on union business. Federal unions dispute the figure and say that when employees are on official time it is for government and contract-related matters, not union organizing.

The third EO would change labor-management bargaining practices which, the White House said, cost taxpayers $16 million in salary money in 2016. Because these are presidential directives rather than legislation, they can be overturned by a future president with the stroke of a pen.

The three EOs fulfill, at least on paper, President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to drain the D.C. swamp which also includes federal outposts from the district to the west coast, and points in-between. It has promised to snip the red tape that it, and many others, make it next to impossible to prod nonperforming bureaucrats either to action or the unemployment line.

And it especially curbs the power of unions in the federal establishment. The unions, as you might expect, are flipping out. The National Treasury Employees Union called the EOs a blueprint for “dismantling the merit system” which is the core of a nonpartisan federal civil service.

The American Federation of Government Employees told Federal News Radio “this is President Trump taking retribution on an apolitical civil service workforce.”

AFGE President J. David Cox will be our guest today at 10 a.m. EDT on our Your Turn radio show. Listen here or on WFED 1500 A.M.  in the D.C. area.

All shows are archived online.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The 2010 Census counted 25 people living in New York City’s Central Park, which is part of Census Tract No. 143. The Census Bureau hypothesized that either homeless individuals residing in the park had returned Census forms, or parks department employees were living in caretaker facilities. Although, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has denied the latter explanation. That year, people were counted living in other city parks as well.

Source: The New York Times