On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders that would expedite the process of terminating “poor performing” federal government employees.

“These executive orders make it easier for agencies to remove poor performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used,” said Andrew Bremberg, the White House’s director of the domestic policy

According to Buzzfeed, these policies “require all federal employees to devote at least 75 percent of their work hours for agency purposes, senior administration officials said. The administration estimates that these actions could save taxpayers at least $100 million a year."

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In one of the executive orders, Trump stated the purpose, which is pretty straightforward:

Merit system principles call for holding Federal employees accountable for performance and conduct.  They state that employees should maintain high standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest, and that the Federal workforce should be used efficiently and effectively.  They further state that employees should be retained based on the adequacy of their performance, inadequate performance should be corrected, and employees should be separated who cannot or will not improve their performance to meet required standards.  Unfortunately, implementation of America’s civil service laws has fallen far short of these ideals.  The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey has consistently found that less than one-third of Federal employees believe that the Government deals with poor performers effectively.  Failure to address unacceptable performance and misconduct undermines morale, burdens good performers with subpar colleagues, and inhibits the ability of executive agencies (as defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code, but excluding the Government Accountability Office) (agencies) to accomplish their missions.  This order advances the ability of supervisors in agencies to promote civil servant accountability consistent with merit system principles while simultaneously recognizing employees’ procedural rights and protections.

He then listed very common sense approaches to disciplining federal workers, and these are much more in line with how the private sector functions.

(a)  Removing unacceptable performers should be a straightforward process that minimizes the burden on supervisors.  Agencies should limit opportunity periods to demonstrate acceptable performance under section 4302(c)(6) of title 5, United States Code, to the amount of time that provides sufficient opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance.

(b)  Supervisors and deciding officials should not be required to use progressive discipline.  The penalty for an instance of misconduct should be tailored to the facts and circumstances.

(c)  Each employee’s work performance and disciplinary history is unique, and disciplinary action should be calibrated to the specific facts and circumstances of each individual employee’s situation.  Conduct that justifies discipline of one employee at one time does not necessarily justify similar discipline of a different employee at a different time — particularly where the employees are in different work units or chains of supervision — and agencies are not prohibited from removing an employee simply because they did not remove a different employee for comparable conduct.  Nonetheless, employees should be treated equitably, so agencies should consider appropriate comparators as they evaluate potential disciplinary actions.

(d)  Suspension should not be a substitute for removal in circumstances in which removal would be appropriate.  Agencies should not require suspension of an employee before proposing to remove that employee, except as may be appropriate under applicable facts.

(e)  When taking disciplinary action, agencies should have discretion to take into account an employee’s disciplinary record and past work record, including all past misconduct — not only similar past misconduct.  Agencies should provide an employee with appropriate notice when taking a disciplinary action.

(f)  To the extent practicable, agencies should issue decisions on proposed removals taken under chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code, within 15 business days of the end of the employee reply period following a notice of proposed removal.

(g)  To the extent practicable, agencies should limit the written notice of adverse action to the 30 days prescribed in section 7513(b)(1) of title 5, United States Code.

(h)  The removal procedures set forth in chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code (Chapter 75 procedures), should be used in appropriate cases to address instances of unacceptable performance.

(i)  A probationary period should be used as the final step in the hiring process of a new employee.  Supervisors should use that period to assess how well an employee can perform the duties of a job.  A probationary period can be a highly effective tool to evaluate a candidate’s potential to be an asset to an agency before the candidate’s appointment becomes final.

(j)  Following issuance of regulations under section 7 of this order, agencies should prioritize performance over length of service when determining which employees will be retained following a reduction in force.

Two other executive orders, which can be read here and here, continue to present a policy that the Trump administration, and I believe the American people, approve of when it comes to people who work for us.

These policies effectively work where Congress has failed to specifically act.  It's simple, if someone is not performing their job, they shouldn't continue in that job at taxpayer expense.  Their job then becomes a form of subsidy rather than public service.

Of course, not everyone is happy about the new executive orders, and I think Trump, knowing the EOs were coming, taunted a few in a tweet about the Deep State.

J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, claims, “Our government is built on a system of checks and balances to prevent any one person from having too much influence.  President Trump’s executive orders will undo all of that. This administration seems hellbent on replacing a civil service that works for all taxpayers with a political service that serves at its whim.”

Actually, that's not true.  Since the Constitution puts him in charge of the Executive Branch, he is the head of that branch and thus can determine whether or not workers are performing well or not and issue procedures on discipline for them.

This really isn't about a "check and balance" as far as I can see.

I actually think this is a smart move by President Trump.  Let's just wait to see his opposition in the Judicial Branch oppose him on it just like they did his constitutional travel ban.

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