Personnel PracticesCareer Appointments Granted Political Appointees From October 1998 Through June 2000 Gao ID: GGD-00-205 September 18, 2000
Fifty-seven former political appointees and legislative branch employees were converted to career positions during the 21 months from October 1998 through June 2000. Most of the 57 appointments were at the Departments of Justice (13), Energy (7), Commerce (7), Defense (5), and Labor (5). Ten of the 57 went to career positions in the Senior Executive Service and 38 went to career General Schedule positions, usually at pay grades 13, 14, and 15. Appointments were often made to newly established positions. For 41 of the 57 appointments, the individuals who were appointed were already working at the agencies that appointed them. For 25 of 56 appointments (no data was available on one appointment), new and old salaries were identical or within $1,000. For 31 appointments, the new salary was either higher (17 cases) or lower (14 cases) by more than $1,000.
GAO noted that: (1) 57 former political appointees and legislative branch employees were converted to career positions during the 21 months from October 1998 through June 2000; (2) nine appointees were former legislative branch employees, and the other 48 appointees were former political appointees at executive branch agencies; (3) the 57 appointments were made by 18 of the 45 agencies; (4) the other 27 agencies, according to their reports, did not appoint political appointees or former legislative branch employees to career positions; (5) most of the 57 appointments were at the Departments of Justice, Energy, Commerce, Defense, and Labor; (6) of the 57 appointments, 10 were to career positions in the Senior Executive Service, which is the federal government's top career management level; (7) another 38 career appointments were to career General Schedule positions, usually at pay grades 13, 14, or 15, which are the three highest GS pay grades; (8) 9 of the 57 appointments were to various other career positions, such as Assistant U.S. Attorney positions at the Department of Justice; (9) appointments frequently were made to newly established positions; (10) agencies reported making 25 conversions to new positions, and most of the appointees to these new positions were already employed at the appointing agencies; (11) the annual salaries appointees received upon their career appointments differed in many instances from the annual salaries they last received in their prior positions; (12) prior salary data were available for 56 appointments; and for 25 of them, the new salary and the old salary were identical or within $1,000; (13) for the remaining 31 appointments, the new salaries were higher or lower than the old salaries by more $1,000; (14) during presidential election years, because of the expected high turnover of political appointees, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) seeks to ensure that each political-to-career conversion complies with appropriate federal personnel rules; (15) on February 18, 2000, OPM issued a memorandum to agencies explaining its clearance process for conversions; and (16) as part of that process, OPM must approve each proposed conversion through January 2001.