In contrast, President Biden will be hindered by the many vacancies created by folks who could not tolerate the unprofessional Trump approach and the totally incompetent political hacks that were hired. The public will need to understand this challenge and accept the fact that it will take significant time to not just set aside incompetent staff but hire quality replacements the federal government needs for expected delivery of quality services. But the experienced Biden-Harris leadership team will get started on this task right away at the various agencies and departments of the federal government.
I think back to my ten years with the National Archives and Records Administration, when I had some 3,000 classified civil service employees who dedicated their careers to public service. Their professionalism and commitment to public service allowed me and my leadership team to focus on securing the resources needed and to work on program changes important to address the changing ways of record creation, preservation, and public access.
If this Trump disaster has a familiar ring for Kansans, it is the memories of our eight years of the Brownback Administration and all the pain that came from their total disrespect for career public servants. With the support of the Republican led Legislature, the law was changed so that when a career employee retired or moved to another job, they could replace that employee with an unqualified political friend who would survive in that position when there is a change of administration. As one can imagine, such action has made many problems for the Kelly administration.
In contrast, President Obama, after a trip to Alabama following a devastating tornado to inspect and, most importantly, check to see how his FEMA director Craig Fugate and team were doing, was pleased to get very positive local feedback. Writing in his book “A Promised Land,” Obama said this:
“I wasn’t surprised, for Fugate had been one of my best hires, a no nonsense, no-ego, no-excuses public servant with decades of experience dealing with natural disasters. Still it gave me satisfaction to see his efforts recognized, and I was once again reminded that so much of what really mattered in government came down to the daily, unheralded acts of people who weren’t seeking attention but simply knew what they were doing and did it with pride.”
And as I shared earlier, the Biden-Harris Administration will initially need some patience from we the people as they work to fill the voids and vacancies in the civil service system left to them by the Trump Administration. I am very confident they will, but just maybe not as fast as we’d like or need—following Trump has its special handicaps. And let us all respect the importance of a quality civil service that makes so much difference in how the job of serving citizens actually gets done.