The OPM memo is the latest in a series of moves focused on burrowing in, which can occur at any time but that draws heightened attention around a change in presidential administrations. Even before the change in law earlier this year, OPM had sent a memo to agencies reminding them of the requirements “to ensure all personnel actions remain free of political influence or other improprieties and meet all relevant civil service laws, rules, and regulations” and saying that all official personnel records should clearly document compliance with merit hiring policies. Also even before the change in law the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, had asked GAO to watch out for burrowing in, and the heads of several House and Senate committees had asked several major agencies to report on any such conversions. Chaffetz further recently asked OPM for detailed information on any conversions government-wide since last September and separately asked two dozen of the largest agencies for such information. However, in practice the impact of burrowing in has been In a 2010 report, for example, GAO found that 26 major agencies had converted only 117 employees from political to career at the GS-12 level or higher from May 2005 to May 2009. It concluded that they appeared to have followed proper procedures in 92 of those cases, it questioned seven, and said there was insufficient information on the rest.
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