Ronald Sanders, a longtime federal HR professional, has resigned from the Federal Salary Council in opposition to the Trump administration’s new executive order on moving policy-related jobs from the competitive service to the executive service, something he described as a “smokescreen” to make political loyalty a job requirement.
Sanders, who headed the council since being appointed by the White House in 2018, has held a number of top federal positions over a long career, including a period as the HR director of the IRS, plus stops at OPM, DoD and elsewhere. He currently heads the school of public administration at the University of South Florida.
In his resignation, which shortly follows issuance of the order and a meeting of the Salary Council on the same day, Sanders said that like other civil servants he took an oath to the Constitution “and despite being a life-long Republican (I was even named after Ronald Reagan), I would like to think that I lived up to it, even as I served three Democratic and three Republican Presidents.”
He said that the order “purports to serve a legitimate and laudable purpose…that is, to hold career federal employees ‘more accountable’ for their performance” but that “it is clear that its stated purpose notwithstanding, the executive order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the president, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”
Several federal employee unions—which commonly clashed with Sanders on the council, for example regarding his suggestions that benefits should be taken into account as well as salaries when comparing federal and non-federal salaries—praised his decision, saying they agree with his interpretation of the order.
The council is due to issue a report in the weeks ahead to the President’s Pay Agent, consisting of the heads of OPM, OMB and Labor.
While that report will reflect the latest finding of the pay gap, of 23.1 percent in the private sector’s favor, individual members are expected to state their own views on issues including the drawing of boundaries for GS employees and criteria for creating new localities or adding areas to existing localities.