Federal employee organizations are focusing on the potential for a Biden administration to quickly revoke Trump administration policies already issued but meanwhile are watching for possible moves by the current White House to issue new directives or to lock in prior ones.
In responding to questions from several federal employee organizations during the campaign, Biden said he would make it a “first day” priority to repeal the trio of 2018 executive orders on union-related and disciplinary practices. Since then, the provisions of the disciplinary order have been put in regulation, likely meaning that further rule-making would be needed to reverse them.
Also since then, the Trump administration has issued several further orders, including one that effectively has suspended diversity and inclusiveness type training and one that could revoke appeal and union rights from tens or thousands or more employees involved in making, advocating for, or implementing policy.
Employee organizations hope and believe that Biden would target those, as well. That also was the recommendation of some former senior federal personnel officials who are part of the good-government group the National Academy of Public Administration who have produced a sample order that Biden could use to override all five directives.
The NTEU union also has produced sample directives for use in repealing Trump policies and for launching policies that unions prefer, such as reinstating labor-management cooperative forums and broadening the scope of bargaining.
Meanwhile, the administration is continuing to work to put in place its policies, including an order calling on agencies to improve how they assess job candidates and to downplay the role of educational credentials in job qualifications except when required by law. OPM on Monday released draft policies and told agencies to review them by the end of the month.
Also underway are steps to carry out the “Schedule F” authority regarding policy-related jobs. Agencies currently are reviewing which positions might meet the order’s definition and are to report to OPM by January 19—the day before Inauguration Day. The order envisions OPM approving those lists and changing those employees’ status but whether it could do so before a Biden inauguration—and what would happen afterward if it did—is unknown.
Agencies further are sending their training curricula to OPM for it to review for content that might run afoul of the order banning what it called gender or race-based stereotyping or scapegoating. That effort too could be simply discarded by Biden.
Employee organizations also are anticipating White House moves to finalize proposals such as rules to restrict back pay awards to employees who win disciplinary appeals, and they are watching for new orders coming with no prior indication, as happened with the Schedule F order.
Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and Oversight and Reform Committee have asked the GAO to review any further rule-making by the Trump administration, citing a concern that the administration “is seeking to rush through a series of regulatory roll-backs during President Trump’s final weeks in office.”
They noted that a 2018 GAO study found that during the transition periods in 2000, 2008, and 2016, a quarter of significant rules did not comply with the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress an opportunity to review and possibly disapprove regulations before they become effective.