I understand why appointees are frantically trying to keep their Bush appointed jobs, but seriously, is this in the best interests of the taxpayers and our country?  Think of former FEMA Director, Brown and other disaster appointees, such as in Commerce, Education, Dept. of Justice and on and on.

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INSIDE WASHINGTON: Appointees find US

 gov’t jobs

Link to original:  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gOrzGddhxI32Nu1zz0XdyqfU3Q5QD95O5EO81

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ellen Engleman Conners lost her shot at a second term as President George W. Bush’s choice to lead the National Transportation Safety Board after others at the agency accused the political appointee of poor management. But that didn’t stop her from winning another government job.

As the White House changes hands, some Bush appointees like Conners will continue their government work under President Barack Obama after quietly transferring to career positions. A review by The Associated Press identified at least 26 such cases approved during Bush’s final year in office, but there likely are even more: The Bush administration has declined for now to provide details of the government job transfers during the last six months of his term, when such transfers referred to as “burrowing” were expected to increase.

In the current economy, with the highest unemployment levels in at least 16 years, holding onto a job with a steady paycheck is looking better and better. A federal civil service job — with good security, flexible schedules, health care coverage and retirement benefits that are among the best available — can be a real plum.

“There needs to be transparency,” said John Gage, who leads the largest federal workers’ union, the American Federation of Government Employees. “These guys have been burrowing in for the past two years or so.”

The problem, Gage and others say, is partisan administrations plant their loyal supporters in government jobs as part of a political legacy, regardless of their experience or qualifications. The practice, while not unique to the Bush administration, attracted more criticism after last year’s revelations that political appointees at the Justice Department were quizzing job applicants on political and social views.

The White House has defended the administration’s employment practices, denying that politics has affected hiring decisions. The assurances came in November after reports that the Interior Department’s top lawyer converted six political positions into civil service jobs.

This isn’t a Republican or Democrat problem. President Bill Clinton’s administration approved 47 transfers of political appointees into career government jobs during his last year in office. The final tally of transfers during Bush’s administration won’t be available until next month — after Bush leaves office — because the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has declined to release details about all transfers during the second half of 2008. The agency is compiling information that should be available next month, spokesman Mike Orenstein said.

“It’s not a secret. There’s no attempt by anyone to hide anything,” Orenstein said.

During Clinton’s eight years, 158 of his appointees moved into the civil service jobs, where applicants are supposed to compete for the post and meet certain qualifications. From the start of Bush’s term in January 2001 until this past June, 135 of his appointees received career government jobs, according to the most recent OPM personnel records.

Both parties bring their faithful into appointed positions throughout government when they take over the White House, and some of those appointees later find career government jobs, even if they haven’t worked in the field or agency.

Conners, the former head of the Indiana Association of Realtors, left her NTSB board appointment for a job with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She works at Johnson Space Center in Houston as external affairs director, earning $158,500 a year, according to federal personnel records.

“I don’t think she’s remotely qualified for the job,” said Keith Cowing, editor of the watchdog NASAwatch.com Web site, which has criticized Conners’ appointment. “I can’t find a shred of space flight or public affairs in her background.”

Conners asked Bush in December 2005 not to reappoint her as NTSB chairman, citing her desire to become “an aggressive advocate for safety” in her continuing role as an NTSB board member. Her decision followed media reports outlining conflicts she had with other board members and agency employees.

Conners declined to comment. Space center officials responded to telephone messages left for her.

Conners’ new job at the space center requires the type of government relations and communications experience the former NTSB chief has used in past jobs, not a specialized scientific background, said Natalie Saiz, the center’s human resources director. Conners was the most qualified applicant selected through “a fair and open competition,” Saiz said.

“I feel very confident in our process and how we selected Ellen Conners,” Saiz said.

Some of Bush’s political appointees moved into government jobs nearly identical to previous positions. Tony Chauveaux, named Texas Art Commission Chairman in 2000 by then Gov. Bush, received a federal political appointment in 2003 as deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Last year, he started a new civil service job, paying $132,049 a year, with the National Archives and Records Administration as deputy director at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., according to federal employment records.

In some cases, political appointees later received jobs in newly created federal positions. Lauren Breitenother received her first political appointment in the White House’s Office of Correspondence after graduating Colgate University in 2005, according to an employment profile she posted online.

She moved to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a confidential assistant. Last year she took a career government job as a new Web designer, a position created by HHS that pays $58,206 a year, according to federal employment records.

“The career job was advertised and promoted,” Christina Pearson, HHS’ assistant secretary for public affairs, wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “Lauren was selected through an open, competitive process.”

Congressional leaders from both parties have complained for years about the practice of political appointees receiving career government jobs. A 2006 government report found problems with one out of every four conversions from political to civil service jobs between May 2001 and April 2005. In 37 of 130 conversions reviewed, agencies didn’t follow proper hiring procedures or didn’t provide adequate documentation to evaluate the hiring process, according to the Government Accountability Office study.

The GAO is scheduled to release another report later this year.

Gage said he hopes he can persuade the new Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to stop, or at least limit, the practice in the future.

“If there ever was a time to end it, now is it,” he said.

 

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