Fitzpatrick & Connolly Introduce the Preventing A Patronage System Act

Legislation would prevent any position in the competitive service from being reclassified

January 14, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, January 13th, 2020, Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Gerry Connolly (VA-11) introduced the Preventing a Patronage System Act, legislation that would prevent any position in the federal competitive service from being reclassified outside of merit system principles without the express consent of Congress.

“Employment in the federal workforce should 100% be based on merit, skill, and experience, not on political connections,” said Fitzpatrick. “Executive Order 13957 undermines the hard work and dedication of so many career federal workers, who are dedicated to sound, evidence-based policymaking," said Fitzpatrick. "I am proud to introduce the Preventing a Patronage System Act, to make sure that our dedicated civil servants who have put in years of merit-based service are not undercut by patronage and political considerations. By strongly supporting experienced civil servants, we will protect merit system principles, which ensure the fairer recruitment of qualified individuals and a more competent, efficient government to help all Americans.”

“Congress has a responsibility to protect our civil service from returning to a failed patronage system,” said Connolly. “Our legislation will ensure no administration pursues a path that would allow the hiring of political cronies and allies at the expense of expertise and maintains protections for civil servants so they cannot be fired for standing up to political pressure.”

The Preventing a Patronage System Act would secure the civil service and protect federal employees from losing statutory job protections and due process rights.  Specifically, the bill would prevent any position in the competitive service from being reclassified to an excepted service schedule created after September 30, 2020.  The bill would also limit federal employee reclassifications to the five excepted service schedules in use prior to the fiscal year 2021 and would block any reclassifications of federal employees to Schedule F pursuant to the EO signed on October 21, 2020. 

On October 21, 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13957 creating Schedule F in the excepted service.  This executive order would undermine the merit system principles of our federal workforce by requiring agency heads to reclassify “policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating” positions to a newly created Schedule F category of federal employees that removes their due process rights and civil service protections. In addition, the executive order would make it easier for any Administration to hire political loyalists and fire qualified experts. According to press reports, the Office of Management and Budget planned to reclassify 88% of its workforce under Schedule F.

The federal workforce is comprised of roughly 2 million federal employees hired on the basis of their acumen, and they work each day for the American people — serving in myriad capacities to improve this nation and America’s posture abroad.  These impartial civil servants research vaccines, help families in the wake of hurricanes and deadly fires and inspect our food to ensure they are free of disease.

The legislation is endorsed by: American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Senior Executives Association, National Federation of Federal Employees, Professional Managers Association, American Society for Public Administration, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Weather Service Employees Organization, Patent Office Professional Association, United Power Trades Organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Civic Leadership Education and Research Initiative, Project Blueprint, FAA Managers Association, National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

Text of the legislation is available HERE.