President Biden has carried through on his promise to change direction from the Trump administration in key areas, starting with repeal of a number of Trump’s major orders regarding the federal workplace.
Biden on Friday repealed the trio of executive orders from May 2018 in which Trump ordered agencies to restrict the subjects over which they would bargain, set limits on the amounts and allowable uses of union official time, and told management to use the fullest range of its powers under law—and to limit accommodations for employees to the legal minimum—in taking discipline.
In reply to an AFGE questionnaire during the campaign, Biden had said he would repeal those orders on his first day, and while that was not literally the case he did act quickly on them.
Also on Friday Biden repealed a Trump order that was issued later, to create a new excepted service Schedule F for positions involved in policy and confidential advice now in the competitive service—essentially turning those positions into politically appointive positions by removing appeal and union representation rights and ending the requirement for competition in filling those positions.
A White House statement said the repeal of the 2018 orders “restores collective bargaining power and worker protections” while the Schedule F order “threatens the critical protections of career employees and provides a pathway to burrow political appointees into the civil service.”
As part of a broader order on diversity and inclusiveness issues in general, Biden earlier had repealed a separate 2020 Trump order that suspended diversity and inclusiveness type training virtually government-wide pending an OPM review of training materials for certain content. A federal court already has blocked implementation of that order as it applies to contractors and grantees, although not to training for federal or military personnel.
Biden however has not acted on a Trump order from last year downplaying the role of educational credentials in job vacancy announcements and the use of self-evaluations in assessing candidates. The former is aimed at helping the government recruit for IT positions, where candidates may have certifications rather than college degrees, and the latter reflects the MSPB’s criticisms of self-evaluations as inflated.
Biden meanwhile has put on hold several sets of rules that were proposed but not finalized under Trump, including to: allow certain positions to be filled much longer under only term assignments; raise the value of performance ratings in RIF retention over veterans preference and length of service; and formalize an order giving agencies more discretion over administrative law judges.