NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Political Appointees "Burrow" into the Civil Service

September 21, 2000

It's not against the law, but near the end of each administration in Washington a number of presidential appointees quietly slip into permanent jobs in the civil service -- rather than risk being ousted by unfriendly newcomers. It's known as "burrowing."

According to a new General Accounting Office report:

  • Between October 1, 1998, and June 30 of this year, 48 Clinton administration and nine congressional appointees crossed over into the protection of the civil service.
  • Twenty-five of them moved into jobs which did not previously exist.
  • The Justice Department led the way in executive branch burrowing -- with 14 people moving into permanent jobs.
  • According to the report, 25 of those who switched moved into jobs paying roughly the same amount as they previously made, 17 copped higher salaries and 14 took pay cuts.

Those familiar with the Washington bureaucracy say that while the number of transfers so far appear to be small, watch out if the White House passes into Republican hands with this election.

Source: Ben White, "Appointees 'Burrowing' Into Jobs," Washington Post, September 18, 2000.


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