Politicizing Hiring Process

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #177749

    Henry Brown

    IMO SCARY… Don’t believe that one political party has the corner on the market ….

    Glad to see that this particular case is going through the courts albeit rather slowly…

    From Courthouse News Service:
    (CN) – The Department of Justice knowingly destroyed evidence that top-ranked law school graduates were not hired during the second Bush administration because of their presumed liberal leanings, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
    In 2006, three top-ranked law school graduates applied to the Department of Justice’s Honors Program, the exclusive means by which the department hires all of its entry-level attorneys. They were rejected.
    Two years later, the Justice Department investigated reports that its hiring process had become politicized. The investigation found that the 2006 screening committee had “‘deselected’ 31 percent of the applicants forwarded by department components, an enormous increase over the previous three years, when the ‘deselection’ rate ranged between one and seven percent,'” according to the ruling.

  • #177763

    Henry Brown

    additional commentary from Privacy blogger Ms. Smith

    DOJ, DHS rejecting law school grads based on online comments

    If you think what you say online doesn’t matter in the big picture of life, then you might be interested in knowing that the Justice Department looked up top-ranked law school graduates on the Internet and then the “screening committee deselected 40% of highly qualified liberal applicants and only 6% of highly qualified conservative applicants” based on what they found online. Former President George W. Bush appointees made up the screening committee that used online items such as an applicant’s law review article before claiming that candidates’ views on Guantanamo Bay were “contrary to the position of the administration.” Another applicant was labeled an “anarchist.” Internal hiring instructions were to “deselect ‘wackos’ or individuals who did not have ‘views consistent with the Attorney General’s views on law enforcement.”

  • #177761

    Mark Hammer

    5 USC § 2302 – Prohibited personnel practices

    (b) Any employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority—

    (1) discriminate for or against any employee or applicant for employment—

    (A) on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, as prohibited under section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e–16);
    (B) on the basis of age, as prohibited under sections 12 and 15 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 631, 633a);
    (C) on the basis of sex, as prohibited under section 6(d) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206 (d));
    (D) on the basis of handicapping condition, as prohibited under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791); or
    (E) on the basis of marital status or political affiliation, as prohibited under any law, rule, or regulation;
    (3) coerce the political activity of any person (including the providing of any political contribution or service), or take any action against any employee or applicant for employment as a reprisal for the refusal of any person to engage in such political activity;
    (4) deceive or willfully obstruct any person with respect to such person’s right to compete for employment;
    (5) influence any person to withdraw from competition for any position for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any other person for employment;
    (6) grant any preference or advantage not authorized by law, rule, or regulation to any employee or applicant for employment (including defining the scope or manner of competition or the requirements for any position) for the purpose of improving or injuring the prospects of any particular person for employment;
    (7) appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position any individual who is a relative (as defined in section 3110 (a)(3) of this title) of such employee if such position is in the agency in which such employee is serving as a public official (as defined in section 3110 (a)(2) of this title) or over which such employee exercises jurisdiction or control as such an official;
  • #177759

    Henry Brown

    yes but the real problem is proving it… Most times the people making the selections or other personnel decisions DON’T leave any kind of paper trail, suspect that this is one of the reasons that this case has dragged on for some 7 years. Most likely it would have died a rather quiet death if the selecting officials hadn’t written down their discriminatory acts and then shared with others the fact that they had “destroyed” the evidence.

  • #177757

    Mark Hammer

    It’s also the case that often people aren’t aware of their own motives. Partisan factors may well shape selection without folks realizing it.

  • #177755

    Peter Sperry

    The problem is exacerbated by perceptions among the political class that certain agencies lean left or right and the career staff cannot be fully trusted to implement policies of the opposite party, provide unbiased advice or refrain from leaking sensitive predecisional discussions. The perceptions are strengthened by the fact they are entirely too accurate entirely too often.

    Rightly or wrongly, the Justice is perceived by many on the right as being a liberal enclave whose career lawyers still genuflect to portraits of Robert Kennedy and self perpetuate liberal bias in the hiring process. Consequently, political appointees of Republican administrations tend to provide greater “oversight” to the hiring process than may be appreciated by existing career staff.

    Liberals tend to have mirror views of the career staff at DoD and the intel community.

    As a current career employee, I strive for neutral objectivity in support of the administration’s agenda and have actually been cautioned about over compensating for my personal conservative views. One colleague told me I was a more effective advocate of White House policy than the political appointees in our agency. I took that as a complement but only during working hours.

    As a former political appointee and Congressional staffer, I quickly learned that about 60-70% of government employees simply do not care one way or the other about ideology. About 15-20% care but can be trusted to put professional ethics ahead of personal ideology and about 15-20% consider government employment a vehicle for expressing their ideology. Political appointees of any party are always going to monitor the hiring process to limit the size of the last group or at least see that it leans in their direction. It is both human nature and good management.

  • #177753

    Henry Brown

    Have no numbers to reinforce my opinion but… would guess that it could be as low as or as high as 50% of the government employees are much lower on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to have any interest in ideology. …

    Of the remaining ~50 percent who have some interest in ideology, would guess(again I don’t have any data to back up my assumptions) that the 90/10 rule would probably kick in here where 90% of government employees who are, at least, somewhat driven by ideology can separate the ideology from government employment.

    all bets are off as far as “political appointees”, would be terribly disappointed if one of the reasons that they are appointed is because of their political views. Agree with you that part of the job description of the political appointees should be to “monitor” the employee’s ideology, especially their fellow political appointees and the 10% who bring their political views into the work place.

    But that is why we have elections which will hopefully keeping the pendulum swinging as far as ideology in the work place..

  • #177751

    Mark Hammer

    We too easily forget (as do many of the academics working in public administration) just how many public sector positions would provide absolutely NO use to any partisan cause by being selected for on a political basis. That is not to say that partisan hiring (or in this case, NON-hiring) for certain positions close to, or at, the policy table, would have no consequence. But the person who delivers the mail, or even a guy like me, does what they do, the same way, regardless of who is in office.

    There probably IS a gray zone where the tendency of managers to hire those they feel sympatico with, or folks they think will not confront them, overlaps with politicization of the hiring process. In those instances, it is more like classic favoritism, flavored with politics.

    And, in some respects, particularly if the hiring manager is, themselves, in the sort of position/function that is very close to the policy table, politicized hiring is, in their minds, somewhat akin to hiring people with enough expertise that you don’t have to train them. They’re ready to go, Monday morning, and no explaining is required about why you want to do/approach something a particular way.

    As someone working in a federal agency tasked with (among other things) assuring the political impartiality of the public service, you can imagine I am a little uncomfortable with that sort of hiring, given that it poses risk to merit, and sidesteps the “fearless advice” that public servants are supposed to provide to their political masters. But at the same time, I can understand the manager’s perspective, and how easily they can slip into it.

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