Lawmaker questions SES reassignments at Interior Dept.

A ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is requesting an investigation into the reassignments of senior executives at the Interior Department.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking for documents related to new positions for about 50 Senior Executive Service employees earlier this year.

According to Cummings, the reassignments raise concern about retaliation and wasteful spending at the department.

“Over the past several months, you have reportedly threatened to use personnel reassignments to move individuals who are disloyal to the Trump administration, and to shrink the department’s workforce,” Cummings wrote in the letter to Zinke, noting a comment Zinke had made publically about dealing with a disloyal workforce.

Shortly before the comments were made, Zinke reassigned the roughly 50 SES members.

“The use of personnel reassignments to punish employees you believe are not 'loyal' or try to drive employees to leave the department could constitute prohibited personnel practices that violate merit systems protections…” the letter continued.

Cummings noted one SES member, Joel Clement, a whistleblower who alleged retaliation after he was transferred to a new position when he spoke out about climate change.

"The reassignment of Mr. Clement and other department employees raise serious concerns about whether they are being retaliated against in violation of the law and whether the department is using taxpayer funds to carry out its mission appropriately,” the letter states. Clement later resigned from the agency.

Read the letter here.

Reader comments

Wed, Nov 1, 2017

Congress and senate have no concerns. They are as corrupt as the rest of a chosen number of SES

Tue, Oct 31, 2017

Way too many worthless SES in positions that were created for them. Eliminate half of those FTEs and allow the rank and file workers opportunities for promotion without implementing the need that they have to be managers. There are great SESZ employees in the government but are few and far between

Thu, Oct 26, 2017 David

An SES is, like all federal employees, loyal to the Constitution of the USA above all else. Loyalty to an individual or ideology is what ruins public service.

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

Some members of the SEs and others are lousy and corrupt at what they do. Maybe this is a way to weed out the ones that offer nothing of intrinsic value other than pulling down a large salary, not having to justify their absence from the office and their bullying of rank and file employees. Again get rid of the lackeys and the nation would be better off and workers could do their work with little vengeance or micromanagement. The bonuses given to the SES lackeys could be divided and distributed to the workers who are the ones that actually get things accomplished. The office where I work is filled with management bloats that exude hot air and they surely take care of themselves.

Tue, Oct 17, 2017 Chip

I don't think it is punishment or retaliation to transfer someone who is disloyal to his/her boss. Its probably in their best interest to get them out of a position where they will probably be tempted to get in trouble.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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