May 22, 2010
-- by Dave Johnson
The Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department was supposed to be regulating and inspecting the oil rig that exploded. They weren't. They were a "captured" regulator. This was entirely due to the conservative deregulation ideology.
President Obama took office in January 2009. This is May, 2010. Why were those Bush people still there?
Where else in our government are Bush holdovers, and why hasn't President Obama gotten rid of them? We want a return to Rule of Law not Rule of Big Corporations. We voted for that. Where is the President We, the People voted for?
Posted by Dave Johnson at May 22, 2010 9:51 AM
Yes, Obama inherited a nonfunctioning Minerals Management Service, along with a nonfunctioning Interior Department and a dozen other nonfunctioning Agencies. And, yes, he needs to clean house. But before he fires someone, he must have a replacement who is willing and ready to do the job. And where does he find these replacements? Not in the affected Agencies - anyone with any integrity didn't survive the President Cheney/mr 17 decisions era. Maybe he can find a suitable replacement and maybe he can get them past Congress, but this takes a lot of time.
I see Obama as the new Admiral of a huge fleet during wartime. He took over from an incompetent, many of his ships are out of fuel, captained by idiots, manned by the enemy, and headed in the wrong direction. Some of his ships are even shooting at him. It takes a while for the Admiral to turn his fleet around and it will take Obama a while to get to everything that he needs to do.
But we can be thankful that Pres. Cheney/mr 17 decisions are no longer in office. Those two would have just kept on sailing.
The vast majority of federal workers have civil service job protections, and consequently Presidents cannot "clean house" upon taking office. Only top-level administrative positions are subject to political appointment and replacement.
Prior to the last Bush administration, the culture of most federal administrative agencies was professional, not ideological. So the job and goals and approach to things for most workers changed little from one administration to the next. That all changed with Bush, who near the end of his term loaded up civil service jobs at federal agencies with ideologues.
MMS won't be the last agency to manifest the sort of "captured" problem you mention. Our President will need two terms to undo that mess and so many others of the Bush legacy.
Agreed. My comment should have been limited to the Agency Administration. But even civil service doesn't protect a professional government employee from harassment, intimidation, transfer, or termination "for cause." Yes, they can challenge any adverse action, but the same sort of people will be ruling on their claim. Good luck with that. And if they take it to Federal Court, they may face a bush appointee sitting on the bench.
You are right about how the civil service system should work. But I trust nothing with the fingerprints of the prior Maladministration.
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