Defenestrating the Deep State
It has become clear that our government needs to have its wings clipped. On multiple occasions, it has abused its power at the cost of the people it serves. The Department of Justice's two-tiered justice system and its use of lawfare, the FBI and our intelligence agencies interfering in the election process, and the Department of Homeland [In]Security's abandoning the slightest pretense of controlling our southern border by ignoring our immigration laws are examples of the deep-rooted corruption of the administrative state.
A three-point plan could help get accountable government back on track:
1. Implement Schedule F. Our government agencies have a set of existing career officials who can prevent a duly elected presidential administration from accomplishing its goals (e.g., the Russian dossier hoax). The Pendleton (Civil Service Reform) Act of 1883 sought to improve government efficiency and end the "spoils system" by creating a professional managerial element based on merit. A noble idea that, since its enactment, has been corrupted by demographical shifts. An elected presidential administration deserves to have a bureaucracy that facilitates accomplishing its goals, not one that obstructs it.
2. Direct the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to recruit nationwide for federal positions GS-12 (middle management) and higher for openings in the metropolitan D.C. area. Nearly all do not include a relocation allowance for a move to the D.C. area. Not authorizing a relocation allowance is a cost-saving measure since the talent pool needed to fill these positions is locally available. Yet, while that talent pool is available, its demographics no longer represent the country.
A look at the demographics of D.C. and its surrounding area shows that those counties are overwhelmingly Democrat. This has limited most federal employee positions to that of candidates from a single political party that bounce from agency to agency as they climb up the career ladder. This incestuous group facilitates a Democrat administration's goals while dragging its feet on implementing a Republican administration's goals.
Providing a relocation allowance offers a level playing field for nationwide recruitment to these positions. It produces a more representative workforce in the D.C. area, promoting diversity of political opinion to prevent the current "groupthink" many agencies seem to suffer.
3. Government Reorganization. Disperse government agency headquarters throughout the country. This should be a no-brainer given the nuclear threat since the Cold War for survivability and continuity of government reasons. The technology exists to implement it. With all our federal tax dollars going to D.C., it is no wonder nine of the richest 20 counties are D.C. and its suburbs. It is time to share the wealth with the rest of the nation.
Instead of the new FBI headquarters in Maryland, construct it in a more central location, say St. Louis or Kansas City. Homeland Security could base out of a Texas city, preferably near our southern border -- the Department of the Interior in Wyoming or Montana. Placing federal government agencies with the rest of America would give them a better understanding of the everyday lives of the people they administer. It would go a long way to spread our tax dollars nationwide and burst the D.C. bubble.
The establishment elite fears this idea; Tom Shoop in Government Executive states that this effort is based on two fallacies:
The first is: "the federal workforce is too Washington-centric. In fact, upwards of 80% of federal employees work outside the national capital region."
The second is: "federal agencies can better serve the American people by being physically close to them." He then uses the Covid-19 pandemic example and remote work allowed agencies to get their work done from anywhere.
As to the first fallacy, 20% of the D.C. federal workforce are the higher levels providing leadership and the agency's direction, not the worker grades implementing those policies. It is time the top 20% are held accountable and face the people their policies affect. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm's unrealistic crusade for EVs, ending gas stoves, etc., is a prime example of being out of touch with the people she regulates.
The second fallacy is laughable; applying for a passport during the pandemic was a clear example that the federal workforce could not get its work done. Average processing time reached as high as 18 weeks and has just returned to six to eight-week pre-pandemic processing norms. Even today, some federal employees continue to fight to return to the office long after the rest of us have returned to work.
At a minimum, adopting these three points would go a long way in disrupting the D.C. elites' power base, ensuring continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic event in D.C., and providing a more politically diverse talent pool to serve in the federal government. Hopefully, we could return to Abraham Lincoln's vision: "…a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Kevin Mason retired from over 36-years of federal service, as an Army officer and then as a civilian working in various positions for the Department of the Army and Department of Defense. His career has taken him to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He holds three master’s degrees in International Relations – Strategic Studies, U.S. History, and Secondary Education.
Image: Von Brozik