Federal scientists, attorneys, regulators, public health experts and many others in senior roles would lose rights to due process and in some cases, union representation, at agencies across the government. The White House declined to say how many jobs would be swept into a class of employees with fewer civil service rights, but civil service experts and union leaders estimated anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands in a workforce of 2.1 million.
It would be a profound reimagining of the career workforce, but one that may end up as a statement of purpose rather than anything else. The order fast-tracks a process that gives agencies until Jan. 19 to review potentially affected jobs. That’s a day before the next presidential inauguration. An administration under Democratic nominee Joe Biden would be unlikely to allow the changes to proceed.
Still, the order, coming less than two weeks before the election, represents a stunning effort to reshape large parts of the nonpartisan government, which is supposed to serve as a cadre of subject-matter experts for every administration.