If Trump wants to ‘win’ at swamp draining he’d do well to follow Georgia’s example of ridding themselves of endless bureaucratic loops that prevent them from firing employees.
In 1996, then-Democrat Gov. Zell Miller signed the Merit System Reform Act, a bill that initially encountered opposition from state employee associations and lawmakers.
Joe Tanner, who was chairman of the state’s Commission on Privatization of State Services during the Miller administration, recalled obtaining one file about hiring a state maintenance worker that was 6 inches thick. A file regarding firing another state maintenance worker for repeatedly not showing up for work was 12 inches thick.
After state Sen. Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, showed the two stacks on the Senate floor, the bill sailed to passage. The state Senate vote was 40-8, the House 141-35.
Tanner called this change transformative for his state. And he said he believes Georgia can be a model for changes in the federal civil service.
Tanner worked for four Democratic governors—starting with Jimmy Carter. He said President Donald Trump could have a unique chance to reform the federal workforce, considering the Republican president ran a campaign in part on government being too big and out of touch.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the federal government, and Georgia can be a model,” Tanner told The Daily Signal. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to do it how we did it, but we could be a model. It worked beautifully to transform state government because people knew they had to get to work, even if they had a little sniffle.”
The Georgia law ensured all state employees hired after July 1, 1996, would be at-will employees, but grandfathered in civil service protections for all of the existing employees.
The “at-will” designation means employers may fire employees without going through a long appeals process, which public sector employees rely on.
The Georgia reform restructured promotion and based pay on performance rather than timelines.
A report on civil service reforms by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, found:
By 2012, over 88 percent of Georgia state employees were working on an at-will basis, hires and pay had actually increased, as did communication between employees and supervisors. The result of Georgia’s reform was not a decimation of the civil service, but instead, a more flexible and responsive system that adapted as the needs of the agency changed over time.
The modern reform movements have focused their rhetoric on running government more like a business, which of course includes being able to fire employees at will or something close to it.
The states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin also passed some reforms for a more accountable public sector workforce, according to ALEC, which advocates conservative policy changes and model bills in state legislatures.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., has proposed a bill to make it easier to dismiss federal employees for misbehavior, which would move the federal rules closer to those of his home state.
Of course the union, American Federation of Government Employees, who represents most federal workers is whining that civil service employees will be compromised through political interference and complaining that it will make it more difficult for federal employees to support and keep our communities safe. It’s always about our safety, isn’t it? They never tire of using that as a weapon to keep big government in place.
Loudermilk’s bill was introduced to the House on January 13 of this year and is now waiting on action from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It will probably never see the light of day because the House leaders just failed miserably on their attempts to modify the ACA, after spending nearly a month on it. Next they will move on the tax cuts and the budget cuts Trump wants, where they will waste more weeks and months to churn out garbage that nobody wants.
Not one single federal employee was fired over the VA fiasco or the IRS scandal. Trump is all for running the government more like a business, so this change would be a great start to cleaning up deadbeat employees who need firing.