oversight

Personnel Practices: Career Appointments of Former Political and Congressional Employees

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-09-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Requesters




September 1997
                 PERSONNEL
                 PRACTICES
                 Career Appointments
                 of Former Political and
                 Congressional
                 Employees




GAO/GGD-97-165
                   United States
GAO                General Accounting Office
                   Washington, D.C. 20548

                   General Government Division

                   B-272243

                   September 2, 1997

                   The Honorable John L. Mica
                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Civil Service
                   Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
                   House of Representatives

                   The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman
                   Chairman, Committee on International Relations
                   House of Representatives

                   This report responds to your requests that we determine (1) whether
                   appropriate authorities were used and proper procedures were followed in
                   appointing former political appointees and legislative branch employees1
                   to positions in the executive branch since January 1996 and (2) whether
                   the circumstances surrounding any of the appointments gave the
                   appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment in the appointment
                   process, even if proper procedures were followed.

                   More specifically, this report provides information on the appointments of
                   36 former political appointees and legislative branch employees to
                   positions in the executive branch between January 1996 and March 1997.2
                   These 36 appointments were at pay grades General Schedule (GS) 13 or
                   higher and were reported to us by 18 of the 50 agencies—including the
                   cabinet-level departments—that we surveyed. The 36 appointments
                   represented fewer than 1 percent of the career appointments made at the
                   GS-13 level or above during the period we reviewed.


                   On the basis of our review of relevant personnel files and documents and
Results in Brief   discussions with agency officials, we believe the 18 agencies that provided
                   career appointments to the 36 former political appointees and legislative
                   branch employees used the appropriate appointment authority to hire


                   1
                    As used in this report, political appointees are defined as those who obtained noncareer appointments
                   to the Senior Executive Service (SES); limited term and limited emergency SES appointments;
                   presidential appointees; and noncareer appointments involving an administratively determined pay
                   rate and whose position titles were administrative—not technical—in nature. Also included are those
                   who held Schedule C positions. Former legislative branch employees are defined as former
                   congressional employees who obtained career appointments to executive branch agencies under
                   authority provided by the Ramspeck Act of 1940 (5 U.S.C. 3304(c)). The act was repealed by Congress
                   effective December 19, 1997.
                   2
                    Of the 36 individuals appointed, 28 were political appointees in the executive branch, and 8 were
                   employed in the legislative branch. The appointments were either career or career-conditional
                   appointments; a career-conditional employee must satisfactorily serve a probationary period before
                   gaining full career status.



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                 each of them3 and followed proper procedures in making the
                 appointments. However, notwithstanding use of the appropriate authority
                 and proper procedures, the circumstances surrounding six of the
                 appointments could, in our opinion, give the appearance that the
                 appointees had received favoritism or preferences that enhanced the
                 appointees’ prospects of appointment.4 For example, in two cases, the
                 vacancy announcements for the positions to be filled, which outlined the
                 qualifications (e.g., work experience) that the agencies were seeking from
                 applicants, appeared tailored to include specific work experiences
                 possessed by the two appointees. Under such circumstances, one would
                 expect these applicants to fare very well in the qualifications review
                 portion of the appointment process, which they did. (Details of the six
                 cases are presented in app. I.) The remaining 30 appointments did not
                 raise comparable questions of the appearance of favoritism or preference.


                 The majority of the federal civilian workforce obtained their positions by
Background       competing against others under the government’s merit system selection
                 process. However, there are provisions for noncompetitive appointments
                 as well. Included among these are the following:

             •   Presidential, noncareer SES, and Schedule C appointees are appointed by
                 an administration to support and advocate the president’s goals and
                 policies. Noncareer SES appointees can receive noncompetitive
                 appointments to SES positions that normally involve advocating,
                 formulating, and directing the programs and policies of the administration.
                 Schedule C appointees generally receive noncompetitive appointments to
                 excepted service positions graded GS-15 and below that involve
                 determining policy or that require a close, confidential relationship with
                 the agency head or other key officials of the agency. These appointees
                 serve at the pleasure of the President or agency head.
             •   Certain congressional employees are eligible to apply for noncompetitive,
                 career appointments under the Ramspeck Act. Eligibility requirements
                 include, among other things, that employees must have been separated
                 from this employment involuntarily, such as when a Member retires, and
                 must be appointed to a career position within 1 year of separation.


                 3
                  Although the appropriate appointment authorities were used, the reference citations on the effecting
                 documents for 3 of the 36 appointments were incorrect. Personnel officials from the employing
                 agencies stated that the incorrect citations were due to administrative error and that corrections
                 would be made. The three appointments did not involve circumstances that, in our opinion, could give
                 the appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment.
                 4
                  The agencies that made the six appointments were the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce,
                 and Veterans Affairs; the U.S. Agency for International Development; and the Office of Personnel
                 Management (OPM).


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    Employees appointed under this authority must meet applicable
    qualification requirements for the positions to which they are appointed.
•   Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, certain agencies
    can noncompetitively appoint individuals to what are labeled
    administratively determined pay rate appointments in which
    (1) individuals appointed under this authority serve at the pleasure of the
    agency head and can be removed upon notice and (2) the salary levels can
    be determined by the agency head.
•   Limited term SES appointments are time-limited, nonrenewable
    appointments for up to 3 years. These appointments can be made
    noncompetitively. Limited emergency SES appointments are also
    nonrenewable. They are for time-limited positions for up to 18 months that
    are required to meet an urgent program need. Limited emergency SES
    appointments also can be made noncompetitively, and the appointees
    serve at the pleasure of the agency head.

    Since such appointments are often tied to the administration in power and,
    with the exception of the Ramspeck Act appointments, are not permanent,
    such individuals sometimes seek a permanent, career appointment in the
    government. Career appointments in government are usually made
    through competitive procedures, consistent with the government’s merit
    system selection principles, in which the selection is determined on the
    basis of relative knowledge, skills, and ability, after fair and open
    competition that ensures that all applicants receive equal opportunity.5
    When a political appointee seeks a career appointment, concerns can arise
    as to whether these merit principles will be followed. These concerns may
    occur because the appointee competing for the career appointment is
    often well known or “connected” in the agency or department, sometimes
    having worked for the political appointee who should nominate the best
    qualified candidate to the selecting official or for the official who will do
    the selecting.

    We have written a number of reports on the issue of former political
    appointees and former legislative branch employees receiving career
    appointments in the executive branch. As in this report, we generally
    found that agencies usually followed appropriate procedures in making
    these career appointments. However, we also found a few cases in which
    the circumstances appeared to have provided the appointee with an
    advantage. See Related GAO Products for a listing of our past reports.



    5
     5 U.S.C. Sec. 2301(b)(1).



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              In order to determine whether agencies used appropriate authorities and
Scope and     followed procedures in providing career appointments to former political
Methodology   appointees and legislative branch employees during the period January 1,
              1996, through March 31, 1997, we first identified such cases. We did this by
              asking 50 executive branch agencies, including all cabinet-level
              departments, to complete and return to us a data collection instrument
              (DCI) for each case in which they had provided (1) a career appointment to
              a former political appointee or (2) a career appointment to a former
              legislative branch employee using Ramspeck Act authority. The DCI
              provided reporting instructions and defined former political appointees
              and legislative branch employees for purposes of our review. It was also
              used to collect details of each of the career appointments, including the
              appointee’s name, employing agency, date of career appointment, title of
              position, and grade level. It also collected details about each of the
              political or legislative branch appointments, including the type and date of
              the political appointment, title of position, and employing agency. In
              addition, we asked each of the 50 agencies to send us negative reports for
              each month in which they did not make such career appointments. A copy
              of the DCI we used for this review is contained in appendix II.

              The 50 agencies and departments were selected using criteria developed in
              concert with your offices. The selection criteria and agencies are identified
              in appendix III. As agreed with your offices, we conducted detailed
              reviews of the authorities used and procedures followed in those cases in
              which career appointments reported to us were made at the GS-13 level
              and higher. To determine whether the appropriate appointing authority
              was used, we first identified the authority that the agency cited for the
              appointment. The agency must cite this authority in Standard Form
              50B-Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50B), a copy of which is filed in
              the appointee’s official personnel folder (OPF). We then researched the
              cited authority in law and/or regulation to determine the criteria the
              agency had to meet in order to use the authority. We then examined the
              contents of the employee’s OPF and, when appropriate, the merit staffing
              case file to determine if there was evidence that the criteria for using the
              authority were met.6




              6
               The types of documents contained in an employee’s OPF may include, in addition to SF-50Bs, the
              employee’s resumes or applications for federal employment, pay records, certificates or diplomas of
              professional training and achievement, and performance ratings. The types of documents contained in
              the merit staffing case file may include a copy of the vacancy announcement, the application packages
              of each applicant, the results of the rating and ranking process, the listing of best-qualified applicants,
              and documentation showing which applicant was selected for the position.



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To determine whether proper procedures were followed in the 36 cases,
we examined the steps taken in the application and appointment process.
With guidance and assistance from a GAO personnel specialist, we
examined OPFs and merit staffing case files to determine what procedures
the agencies used. In cases where we had questions, we also interviewed
officials from the personnel offices of the appointing agency or other
officials knowledgeable about the specific case. We then compared the
procedures used in the appointment process to the federal personnel laws
and regulations contained in the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal
Regulations and to the department’s or agency’s merit staffing plans, as
appropriate. We did not independently determine whether the 36
employees were qualified for the positions to which they were appointed.

There was no specific set of criteria that we could apply to determine if
any of the appointments appeared to involve favoritism or preferential
treatment. Consequently, we applied our professional judgment after
reviewing the circumstances of each case. For example, to assess whether
a vacancy announcement might have been tailored to the work
experiences of the appointee, we examined information contained in the
employee’s application materials and excepted service position
descriptions regarding work experiences and dates and responsibilities
and compared that information to the information contained in the
vacancy announcement.

We were aided in this appraisal of the circumstances by the knowledge
gained from past work on the subject; the technical assistance provided by
a GAO personnel specialist; and by our internal review process, which
included the examination of the six questionable cases by attorneys
experienced in the application of federal personnel law. In addition, we
gave draft summaries of the six cases to the respective agencies that made
the appointments and asked them to provide any corrections,
clarifications, or explanations that they believed were appropriate to our
understanding of the circumstances. We incorporated their clarifications
to the case summaries as appropriate.

All together, 20 of the 50 agencies reported to us that they had made 47
career appointments of (1) former political appointees or (2) former
legislative branch employees under authority provided by the Ramspeck
Act. We did not verify that the 50 agencies identified and reported to us all
reportable appointments. Of the 47 appointments reported to us, 36 were
made at the GS-13 level, or higher, by 18 agencies. Appendix IV provides a
list of the 18 agencies where the 36 appointments were made.



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                      We did our work in Washington, D.C., from April 1996 through July 1997 in
                      accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
                      Because OPM is responsible for overseeing the federal personnel system,
                      we obtained written comments on a draft of this report from OPM. These
                      comments are discussed at the end of this letter and are reprinted in
                      appendix V.


                      Agencies must cite the legal authority under which they are appointing an
Appointment           individual in the documentation they prepare to make an appointment.
Authorities and       Each appointment authority generally covers a particular set of
Procedures Properly   circumstances and includes requirements or criteria the agencies must
                      meet in order to use the authority. All together, 7 different appointment
Used or Followed      authorities, such as the Ramspeck Act of 1940, were cited for the 36
                      appointments. (The 7 authorities, their criteria, and the distribution of the
                      36 appointments among the 7 authorities are shown in app. VI.) From our
                      review of the various documents that were related to the appointments
                      (such as vacancy announcements, resumes, and official notifications of
                      personnel actions) and our discussions with pertinent agency officials, we
                      determined that the agencies met the requirements of the 7 appointment
                      authorities and that they used the authorities properly in making the 36
                      appointments.

                      We did note, however, that in 3 of the 36 appointments, although the
                      appropriate appointment authorities were used, the reference citations on
                      the effecting documents were incorrect. For example, in one case, the
                      appointment authority cited was the vacancy announcement number
                      rather than the applicable section of the U.S. Code entry under which
                      authority the appointment had been made. Personnel officials from the
                      employing agencies stated that the incorrect citations were due to
                      administrative error and that corrections would be made. The three
                      appointments did not involve circumstances that, in our opinion, could
                      give the appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment.

                      The merit staffing procedures agencies are to follow in making
                      appointments are set out in federal personnel law and regulations and by
                      the agencies in their merit staffing plans, which detail their procedures for
                      filling positions. The procedures are intended to foster the principles of
                      fair and open competition and equal opportunity. For example, to fill a
                      position, an agency may be required to (1) publish a vacancy
                      announcement so that the position’s availability is made known to
                      possible applicants; and (2) have all applications rated and ranked by a



                      Page 6                                        GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
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                      several-member panel, with the assignment of members to the panel and
                      the scoring of applications to be accomplished in accordance with the
                      related merit staffing plan. For the 36 cases, we compared the procedures
                      called for in law, regulation, and merit staffing plans, as appropriate, with
                      the procedures that were evident in the appointment documentation. On
                      the basis of these comparisons, it appeared that the agencies followed
                      proper procedures in making the 36 appointments.

                      However, as we pointed out in a previous report,7 like any other system,
                      the appointment process can be manipulated. Processes and procedures
                      such as advertising the positions may be followed, and the appearance of
                      fair and open competition may be achieved. Ultimately, however, the
                      question of whether fair and open competition actually occurred or
                      whether a candidate was preselected for appointment or given some other
                      advantage rests with the intent and motivation of the agency officials
                      involved—factors that cannot be controlled by regulation and that we
                      could not determine from review of files or discussions with agency
                      officials.


                      Although records in OPFs and merit staffing files indicated that agencies
Circumstances         used proper appointing authorities and procedures for all 36
Surrounding Six       appointments, in our opinion, 6 appointments involved circumstances that
Appointments Could    could lead to the appearance that the individuals received favoritism or
                      preferences that enhanced their prospects for the appointments. The
Give the Appearance   remaining 30 appointments did not raise comparable questions of the
of Favoritism or      appearance of favoritism or preference. The circumstances in these six
                      cases are summarized below.
Preferential
Treatment             In two cases, the required duties, knowledge, skills, or abilities listed in
                      the vacancy announcements appeared to have been tailored to the work
                      experiences of the political appointees who applied for and were
                      appointed to the respective positions. In one of these cases, the vacancy
                      announcement contained several requirements that closely matched the
                      specific work experiences of the political appointee who obtained the
                      position. One of those requirements, for example, was that applicants
                      should have experience working with particular congressional
                      committees. The only applicant who had that experience was the political
                      appointee, who had worked for one of the committees prior to obtaining
                      his political appointment. In the other case, the vacancy announcement

                      7
                       Personnel Practices: Propriety of Career Appointments Granted Former Political Appointees
                      (GAO/GGD-92-51, Feb. 12, 1992).



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contained several requirements that closely matched the position
description for the job the political appointee had previously held at that
agency. Agency personnel officials with whom we discussed these two
cases defended the agencies’ prerogative in determining what
requirements were necessary for the positions. They also said that
situations in which vacancy announcements may appear to be tailored to a
particular individual are not unusual.

In another two cases, political appointees obtained career appointments to
positions from which they were reassigned shortly after receiving their
appointments, thus raising questions about whether there was a bona fide
need to fill the positions. In one of these cases, a political appointee
obtained a career appointment to a position from which—on the same day
of his career appointment—he was reassigned to a second position. In the
second of these two cases, a political appointee responsible for the
agency’s administrative operations—including human resource
management—initiated the process to fill, through a career appointment,
an executive level position at a component agency. A vacancy
announcement was published, and the political appointee applied and was
selected for the position. According to a high ranking human resource
management official at the parent agency, the need to fill the position was
questionable because, among other things, the agency in which the
position was located had a strong administration and did not need another
executive position. After about 2 months, the newly appointed “career”
employee was reassigned to another position.

In the fifth case, a political appointee who worked directly for the head of
the agency helped create a new executive position that was to be filled
through a career appointment. The political appointee applied and was
selected by the head of the agency for the position. High ranking agency
officials told us that they were surprised that the political appointee
applied and was selected for the position because of the potential negative
perceptions that the public may have acquired in this case. Nevertheless,
the agency officials advised us that political appointees are not prohibited
from applying or being selected for career appointments in the
government; in this case, they believed the individual was the most
qualified applicant for the position.

Finally, the sixth case involved a political appointee who applied and was
selected for an executive position after the position was announced a third
time. Applicants from the first two announcements were rated together by
a screening panel, of which the political appointee was a member. Five



Page 8                                       GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
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                     applicants were identified as being best qualified for the position, and one
                     of them was offered the position but declined. The position was then
                     reannounced for the third time, and the political appointee applied and
                     was selected for the position. According to documentation contained in
                     the merit staffing file, the position was reannounced because too much
                     time—3 months—had passed since the closing of the original
                     announcement, and it was decided that the search for candidates should
                     be broadened. We noted that recruitment under the first two vacancy
                     announcements had been limited to current civil service employees of the
                     federal government. The recruitment area was expanded to qualified
                     applicants from within and outside the federal government in the third
                     announcement. The political appointee who obtained the position had the
                     kind of experience that the position required. However, the unanswerable
                     question is whether the agency reissued the announcement in order to
                     enable the political appointee to apply, even though one of the
                     best-qualified candidates from the earlier announcements could have been
                     selected.

                     We believe that the circumstances surrounding each of the six cases could
                     create a perception of preferential treatment or favoritism toward a
                     particular applicant, despite the use of proper hiring authorities and merit
                     staffing procedures. The appearance of preferential treatment or
                     favoritism can obviously compromise the integrity of the merit staffing
                     system. However, a determination of whether preferential treatment or
                     favoritism actually occurred could be made only if the intent and
                     motivation of the agency officials involved were known.


                     The Director of OPM provided written comments on a draft of this report in
Agency Comments      a letter dated July 29, 1997. (See app. V.) The Director expressed concern
and Our Evaluation   about our finding that circumstances surrounding six appointments could
                     give the appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment. He noted that
                     there is a difference between “could” and “did,” and in OPM’s reading of the
                     draft report, there is no basis to conclude that favoritism or preferential
                     treatment did actually occur. He was concerned with the use of the word
                     “could” because, he said, it implies activity that cannot be proven, while
                     leaving the impression of wrongdoing. He said that since we were unable
                     to discern the intent of the agency officials involved in the six
                     appointments, it would be inappropriate to conclude that any prohibited
                     activities occurred. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, he believed
                     that agencies must be given the benefit of the doubt in assessing whether
                     they exercised proper judgment in their appointments.



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We agree that such a conclusion would be inappropriate. As we point out
in the report, an ultimate determination of whether favoritism or
preferential treatment actually occurred could be made only if the intent
or motivation of the involved agency officials are known—something that
we could not determine from review of agency files or discussions with
agency officials. For this reason, we characterized the circumstances as
those that, in our opinion, could lead to the appearance of favoritism or
preferential treatment. We believe this is a valid representation of the
circumstances surrounding the six appointments, but we recognize that
others could have a different opinion. Just as we reported that the
agencies used appropriate appointment authorities and followed proper
appointment procedures, we would be remiss in not reporting the
existence of the circumstances surrounding the six cases.

The Director pointed out in his letter that limited term and limited
emergency SES appointments are not considered by OPM to be political
appointments. We recognize that OPM has not traditionally recognized such
appointments as being political appointments. Among other things,
however, they share certain characteristics with the noncareer SES
political appointments. For example, limited term SES appointments can be
made noncompetitively and appointees serve at the pleasure of the agency
head. On the basis of discussions with your offices, and as pointed out in
footnote 1 of this report, we treated both limited term and limited
emergency SES appointments for purposes of this assignment as political
appointments when the incumbents of those positions subsequently
obtained career appointments. The Director also clarified the use of a
specific SES appointment authority that focuses on the technical
qualifications of an SES career appointment candidate deemed to offset the
lack of some of the general managerial qualifications. We incorporated this
clarification in our description in appendix I of the case involving the
career appointment of a Department of Energy employee.

One of the other cases involved an OPM appointment, and the Director
provided clarification of the role his former Chief of Staff played in the
creation of the position to which he (the former Chief of Staff) obtained a
career appointment. Based on this clarification, we augmented our
description of this case to include language intended to more clearly
describe the former Chief of Staff’s role in creating the position. In
clarifying the role, the Director noted our concern that the appointment
may have negatively affected other agencies’ views toward OPM as the lead
organization for ensuring that agencies follow merit system principles. The




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Director said he considers oversight and protection of the merit system to
have been the core function of OPM during his tenure.


As agreed with your Committees, unless you publicly announce this
report’s contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of it until 10 days
after the date of this letter. We will then send copies to the Ranking
Minority Members of your Committee and Subcommittee, the Chairmen
and Ranking Minority Members of the Senate Governmental Affairs and
House Government Reform and Oversight Committees, other appropriate
congressional committees, the Director of OPM, the heads of other agencies
where we did our work, and other interested parties. We will also make
copies available to others on request.

Major contributors to this report were Richard W. Caradine, Assistant
Director; N. Scott Einhorn, Evaluator-in-Charge; Anthony Assia, Evaluator;
Carolyn L. Samuels, Evaluator; and Stephen J. Kenealy, Technical Advisor.
Please contact me at (202) 512-9039 if you have any questions.




Michael Brostek
Associate Director
Federal Management
  and Workforce Issues




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Contents



Letter                                                                                           1


Appendix I                                                                                      16
                        Case 1: Tailored Vacancy Announcement                                   16
Details of Six Cases    Case 2: Tailored Vacancy Announcement                                   18
That Could Give the     Case 3: Reassigned Soon After Obtaining Career Appointment              20
                        Case 4: Reassigned Soon After Obtaining Career Appointment              22
Appearance of           Case 5: Political Appointee Obtained Career Appointment to              24
Preferential              Position He Helped Create
Treatment or            Case 6: Political Appointee Participated on Panel Before                26
                          Applying, and Being Selected, for the Position
Favoritism
Appendix II                                                                                     28

Data Collection
Instrument Used
Appendix III                                                                                    31

Listing of 50
Executive Branch
Agencies and
Departments
Reviewed and Criteria
Used to Select Them




                        Page 12                                  GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
                       Contents




Appendix IV                                                      33

Career Appointments
of Former Political
and Legislative
Branch Employees
Made by 18 Agencies
at Pay Grades GS-13
or Higher (Jan. 1,
1996, Through Mar.
31, 1997)

Appendix V                                                       34

Comments From the
Office of Personnel
Management
Appendix VI                                                      38

Appointment
Authorities Used in
the 36 Appointments
We Reviewed
Related GAO Products                                             39




                       Page 13    GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Contents




Abbreviations

AD         administratively determined pay rate
AID        Agency for International Development
DCI        data collection instrument
DOD        Department of Defense
DOE        Department of Energy
ERB        Executive Resources Board
IDP        individual development plan
IG         Inspector General
IPA        Intergovernmental Personnel Act
OPF        official personnel folder
OPM        Office of Personnel Management
QRB        Qualifications Review Board
SES        Senior Executive Service
VA         Department of Veterans Affairs


Page 14                                   GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Page 15   GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix I

Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
Favoritism
                   In May 1994, an individual was noncompetitively appointed by the
Case 1: Tailored   Department of Defense (DOD) to an excepted service, Schedule C, position
Vacancy            at the General Schedule (GS) 14 level. Prior to obtaining this position, the
Announcement       individual had worked for approximately 5 years on the U.S. House of
                   Representatives Committee on Small Business. In March 1996, the
                   individual obtained a career appointment to a competitive service position
                   at DOD. Results from our examination of the case indicated that the
                   vacancy announcement for the competitive service position appeared to
                   have been tailored to the work experience of the individual appointed. The
                   announcement contained work experience requirements that closely
                   matched the specific work experiences of the individual, including
                   “detailed knowledge of, and experience with, the Congressional legislative
                   process, particularly in the Small Business Committees.”

                   The May 1994 excepted service appointment was to a temporary Schedule
                   C, GS-14 Staff Specialist position for which the appointment was not to
                   exceed September 11, 1994. On July 24, 1994, the individual was converted
                   from the temporary appointment to a permanent excepted service
                   appointment as a Schedule C Staff Specialist.

                   The March 1996 career appointment was to a Program Analyst position
                   that was initially advertised in September 1995 and subsequently
                   readvertised in November 1995. The initial vacancy announcement had
                   limited the area of consideration to “Current Status Department of
                   Defense Employees, Eligible Disabled, and 30% Disabled Veterans.”
                   According to DOD personnel officials, this area of consideration restricted
                   competition to only those candidates who (1) had competitive service
                   status and were already employed by DOD or (2) were eligible disabled
                   veterans. We noted that the individual who was selected for the position
                   had not acquired competitive service status and, under the area of
                   consideration specified in the initial advertisement, would not have been
                   eligible to apply or be considered for the position.

                   The area of consideration in the November 1995 vacancy announcement
                   was changed to “All Sources.” According to DOD personnel officials, the All
                   Sources denotation meant that the position was open to competition
                   among all candidates, including those who did not have competitive
                   service status in the federal government, such as the individual who was
                   selected for the position. However, the qualifications of such applicants
                   would first have to be reviewed by the Office of Personnel Management
                   (OPM) in order to (1) certify the individual’s eligibility for the position and
                   (2) rate and rank the applicants against others lacking competitive service



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Appendix I
Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
Favoritism




status who were seeking the position. According to DOD personnel
officials, the original intention of DOD managers was to announce the
position to sources both within and outside the government, and so the
restricted area of consideration in the original announcement was a
clerical error.

Both vacancy announcements contained several duties and assessment
factors that appeared to be tailored to the work experiences of the
individual. For example, one of the duties listed was to serve as the
manager of the Small Business Innovation Research program and related
small business research programs. According to information contained in
the application materials of the individual, he had been serving as the
acting manager of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small
Business Technology Transfer programs. Of the five assessment factors
listed in the amended vacancy announcement, one of them required
detailed knowledge of the statutes and operations of the Small Business
Innovation Research program; one required knowledge of and experience
with the congressional legislative process, particularly in the Small
Business Committees; and one required thorough knowledge and
understanding of the academic literature bearing on technology policy and
management. The first two matched the individual’s work experience as
claimed on his application materials. The third assessment factor also
matched information cited on the individual’s application materials in
which he listed six published articles on technology policy that had
appeared in such publications as The Economist and Science.
Additionally, the individual stated that he had coauthored a publication
entitled Dual Use Technology: A Defense Strategy for Affordable, Leading
Edge Technology. The other two assessment factors required general
knowledge and understanding of innovative solutions to complex
problems and familiarity with the management of “RDT&E” within DOD,
qualifications that were not specifically addressed in the individual’s
application materials.

Documents contained in DOD’s files indicated that 42 persons, including the
individual, applied for the competitive service position. Nineteen of the 42,
including the individual, were determined to be among the best qualified.
DOD tentatively selected the individual, then asked OPM to determine
whether the individual would be within reach on an OPM certificate of
eligibles. OPM determined that the individual was eligible for the position
and sent DOD a certificate of eligibles containing only the name of the
individual. It was from this certificate that the individual was officially
selected.



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                   Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
                   Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
                   Favoritism




                   In March 1994, an individual was noncompetitively appointed by the U.S.
Case 2: Tailored   Agency for International Development (AID) to an excepted service,
Vacancy            administratively determined pay rate position equivalent to the GS-15
Announcement       level.1 According to documents contained in the employee’s official
                   personnel folder (OPF), prior to obtaining this position, the individual had
                   worked for approximately 2 years as a congressional staff member. In
                   April 1996, the individual was selected for a career appointment to a
                   competitive service position at AID. Results from our examination of the
                   case indicated that the vacancy announcement for the competitive service
                   position appeared to be tailored to the work experience of the individual.
                   The announcement contained work experience requirements that closely
                   matched the specific work experiences of the individual, including
                   knowledge and understanding of the legislative authorization and
                   appropriations process. Because the individual did not have competitive
                   service status in the federal government, OPM had to review the individual’s
                   qualifications in order to (1) certify the individual’s eligibility for the
                   position; and (2) rate and rank the individual against other qualified,
                   nonstatus applicants who were seeking the position. For this reason, the
                   close matching of the experience requirements in the vacancy
                   announcement to the work experience of the individual could have
                   affected the outcome of OPM’s review.

                   The March 1994 excepted service appointment was to a Program Manager
                   position equivalent to the GS-15, step 9, salary level. The authority used for
                   this noncompetitive appointment was provided by section 625(b) of the
                   Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.2 According to an AID
                   personnel official, such appointments are labeled by AID as
                   administratively determined (AD) pay rate appointments in which
                   (1) individuals appointed under this authority serve at the pleasure of the
                   AID Administrator and can be removed upon notice, and (2) the salary
                   levels can be determined by the AID Administrator.

                   The April 1996 career appointment was to a GS-14 Program Manager
                   position and resulted from a competitive selection process in which the
                   vacancy was announced to the public, applications were received and
                   screened, the best-qualified applicants were identified, qualifications of
                   best qualified nonstatus applicants were reviewed by OPM, certificates of
                   eligibles for selection were prepared, and the individual was selected. Our
                   examination of the case indicated that AID appeared to have followed
                   proper procedures in the competitive selection process. Even so, certain

                   1
                    See footnote 1 in letter.
                   2
                    22 U.S.C. 2385(b).



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factors about the vacancy announcement may have enhanced the
individual’s prospects of being found to be among the best qualified and
eligible for selection.

The vacancy announcement for the competitive service position indicated
that both status and nonstatus applicants could apply. Therefore, the
individual—who did not have status—was eligible to apply for the
position. According to an AID personnel official, many of AID’s positions are
highly technical in nature and therefore potentially qualified applicants are
limited. As a result, vacancy announcements for such positions are
frequently opened to all sources, including nonstatus applicants. In this
case, however, the position did not appear to be highly technical. The AID
personnel official indicated that AID management has the prerogative to
announce vacant positions as being open to both status and nonstatus
applicants in order to attract the best qualified applicants, regardless of
their competitive status.

The vacancy announcement also contained several duties that matched
the duties and responsibilities section of the position description for the
excepted service position to which the individual had been appointed in
1994. In addition, the vacancy announcement cited three selective factors
that were to be used in evaluating the applicants’ qualifications. Two of the
three factors matched the factors contained in the position description for
the excepted position to which the individual had been appointed, and the
third factor—concerning knowledge of the authorization and
appropriations process—matched the work experience cited by the
individual on application documents.

Documents contained in AID’s files indicated that at least 15 persons,
including the individual, applied for the competitive service position. Five
of the 15, including the individual, were determined to be among the best
qualified. OPM reviewed the qualifications and rated and ranked four of
those five, including the individual, since the four did not have status.
OPM’s rating and ranking resulted in a certificate of eligibles that showed
the individual as ranked highest among the four and therefore eligible for
selection. Regulations in this situation are that an agency may select from
the top three rated and ranked eligibles on the OPM certificate, except that
an agency should normally not bypass a preference-eligible veteran.3
(None of the four persons rated and ranked by OPM claimed veterans’
preference points in this case.) In our opinion, the individual’s chances of
being placed among the top three could have been enhanced by the

3
 5 CFR 332.406(b).



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                           Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
                           Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
                           Favoritism




                           similarities between the vacancy announcement and the individual’s work
                           experience.

                           The fifth person found to be best qualified did have status; therefore, OPM
                           did not review that person’s qualifications. AID personnel staff placed this
                           person’s name alone on a separate certificate of eligibles from which the
                           selection could also have been made.


                           This case involved actions taken by the Department of Energy (DOE) to
Case 3: Reassigned         (1) appoint a former congressional employee to a 2-year limited term
Soon After Obtaining       Senior Executive Service (SES) position in order to fill a purported critical
Career Appointment         vacancy, (2) approve detailing the employee from that position to another
                           position shortly after appointing him, (3) select this individual about 10
                           months later for a career SES appointment to a specific position, and
                           (4) reassign the individual to another SES position the same day his career
                           appointment became effective. We believe that the circumstances
                           surrounding DOE’s actions could give the appearance that

                       •   a bona fide need for the initial limited term SES position may not have
                           existed, and that
                       •   DOE did not intend for the employee to serve in the position for which he
                           was initially selected.

                           On November 18, 1994, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and
                           Renewable Energy requested the Department’s Executive Resources
                           Division to appoint a former congressional employee to the position of
                           Deputy Assistant Secretary for Building Technologies. According to the
                           employee’s application for federal employment, his position on a
                           congressional committee had been abolished. The request was for a
                           limited term SES appointment and was purported to be needed to fill a
                           critical vacancy that occurred when the incumbent went on an
                           Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment. The term appointment
                           was not to exceed January 3, 1997, or the date when the incumbent
                           returned from the IPA assignment. The Executive Resources Board (ERB)
                           approved the request on November 21, 1994, pending the allocation of the
                           limited term SES position by OPM. DOE received approval from OPM in a letter
                           dated January 4, 1995, from the Chief of Staff for the Director of OPM. DOE
                           appointed the employee to the limited term SES position effective
                           January 4, 1995. An agency may make a limited term appointment without
                           the use of merit staffing procedures, but the appointee must meet the
                           qualification requirements for the position (see 5 CFR 317.603).



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Although the limited term position and appointment were to fill a critical
need, within 2 weeks of his appointment, the ERB approved the detailing of
the employee to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for House
Liaison, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental
Affairs. However, agency documents contained in his OPF show that the
detail was not officially effected until April 20, 1995, approximately 4
months after he received his limited term appointment.

During the employee’s detail, DOE advertised the position for Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Building Technologies as a career SES appointment.
The vacancy announcement was advertised from July 12, 1995, to
August 9, 1995. The employee applied for the position on August 7, 1995.
DOE’s Merit Staffing Committee evaluated the applicants and made a final
determination on October 18, 1995. Seventeen applications were received,
and 4 of the 17 applicants were determined not to be qualified. Of the
remaining 13 qualified applicants, the Committee rated 1 superior, 5 very
good, and 4 acceptable. Three were found qualified as noncompetitive
referrals. The employee received the superior rating. The applicants rated
superior and very good were referred to the selecting official as the best
qualified.

The employee was approved for selection for the career SES appointment
as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Building Technologies in the Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on December 18, 1995, subject
to OPM’s certification of his managerial qualifications. On the same day,
however, DOE approved a request to reassign the employee to the position
of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy.

Because this was the employee’s first career SES appointment, his
executive/managerial qualifications needed to be certified by a
Qualifications Review Board (QRB) convened by OPM. Federal personnel
law requires that the qualifications of an individual selected for a career
appointment to the SES for the first time must be certified by a QRB. On
January 4, 1996, DOE submitted a request for certification to OPM. DOE’s
submission requested approval of the candidate’s qualifications under
5 U.S.C. 3393(c)(2)(A)—“consideration of demonstrated executive
experience.”

OPM  notified DOE on January 30, 1996, that the QRB disapproved the
certification because it found that two of the five executive core
qualifications—Human Resources Management and Resources Planning
and Management—were not supported at the executive level in the



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                       Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
                       Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
                       Favoritism




                       submission. DOE resubmitted a request for approval to OPM on February 15,
                       1996. The new request included a revised Standard Form 171, which
                       expanded upon the employee’s work experience; several letters of
                       endorsement from senior DOE executives; and an individual development
                       plan (IDP) for the employee. Also, in the new submission, DOE requested
                       approval of the employee’s qualifications under 5 U.S.C. 3393(c)(2)(C).
                       This section provides for “sufficient flexibility to allow for the
                       appointment of individuals who have special or unique qualities which
                       indicate a likelihood of executive success and who would not otherwise be
                       eligible for appointment.” A DOE official told us that the department
                       believed the employee possessed the special qualities called for under
                       3393(c)(2)(C).

                       According to OPM, 5 U.S.C. 3393(c)(2)(C) authority focuses on the
                       qualifications of the applicant and is used when an individual brings
                       unique technical qualifications to the position that offset the absence of
                       some general managerial qualifications. OPM notified DOE on February 20,
                       1996, that a QRB certified the employee under 3393(c)(2)(C).

                       On February 21, 1996, DOE approved a request to reassign the employee
                       from his career SES appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for
                       Building Technologies, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,
                       to the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.
                       The effective date was March 3, 1996. A DOE official told us this
                       reassignment was made because there was a greater need to fill the latter
                       position.

                       On March 8, 1996, DOE selected another candidate for the Deputy Assistant
                       Secretary for Building Technologies position. This candidate had been
                       among the best qualified when the former congressional appointee was
                       originally selected for that position. However, this candidate declined the
                       offer in May 1996. DOE readvertised the position in September 1996 and
                       selected another individual to fill the position in July 1997.


                       This case involved actions taken by the Department of Commerce to select
Case 4: Reassigned     a noncareer SES employee for a career SES appointment in a vacated
Soon After Obtaining   position that had been authorized to be advertised and filled by the same
Career Appointment     noncareer SES employee. Shortly after receiving the career appointment,
                       the individual was reassigned to another SES position in the Department.
                       The circumstances surrounding these actions could give the appearance
                       that a bona fide need for the initial SES position may not have existed.



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    Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
    Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
    Favoritism




    The employee was hired as a Schedule C, Confidential Assistant in the
    immediate office of the Secretary of Commerce on February 2, 1993. She
    was appointed to a noncareer SES position on March 3, 1993, in the
    Department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration. Her
    position title was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, with
    responsibilities for space allocations, parking, and virtually all other
    administrative matters, including human resources.

    According to the Director for Human Resources Management at the
    Department of Commerce, in the latter part of 1995, the noncareer SES
    appointee approved the filling of a vacant career SES position. The
    Director, who worked for the political appointee, investigated the position
    and informed the political appointee that she did not think the position
    should be posted and filled for the following reasons:

•   Commerce was trying to reduce its number of SES positions.
•   The agency in which the position was located had a strong administration
    and did not need another executive position.
•   The position created an additional layer over other administrative
    positions at the agency, which created further concern about the need for
    the position.

    According to the Director, although the political appointee was aware of
    her concerns, the political appointee decided to post the position anyway.
    The position was advertised from August 28, 1995, to September 18, 1995,
    and was open to all qualified applicants. Commerce received 12
    applications. One of the applicants was the political appointee.

    The Director told us she was unaware that the political appointee had
    intended to apply for the position. After learning of this, the Director sent
    all the applications to the Bureau of Census so that its personnel office
    could do the merit staffing and ranking process. This was done to avoid
    any appearance of impropriety, because the political appointee was the
    Director’s “noncareer” supervisor.

    Of the 12 applicants, 4 were disqualified in the preliminary screening for
    failing to address all of the qualification requirements, and 4 others were
    deemed not qualified for the position. The screening panel ranked the
    political appointee as “highly qualified” and ranked the other three as
    “qualified.” All four were referred to the selecting official, who selected the
    noncareer SES appointee for the position.




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                        Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
                        Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
                        Favoritism




                        Commerce sent the employee’s qualifications for the career SES
                        appointment to OPM to be certified by a QRB, the last step in the SES merit
                        staffing process. OPM also conducted a merit staffing review of this
                        appointment as part of its oversight of conversions of political appointees
                        to career positions. OPM concluded that the staffing process appeared to
                        have been conducted in conformance with all applicable laws and
                        regulations. The career appointment was effected on January 21, 1996.

                        On March 31, 1996, approximately 2 months after being appointed, the
                        former political appointee was reassigned to another career SES position in
                        another agency of the Department of Commerce.


                        In March 1996, the OPM Chief of Staff—who was holding a noncareer SES
Case 5: Political       appointment to that position—obtained a career SES appointment to the
Appointee Obtained      position of Director, Partnership Center. The Partnership Center position
Career Appointment      resulted from an OPM study, and the Chief of Staff was the highest ranking
                        official on the task force that performed the study and recommended
to Position He Helped   creation of the Partnership Center. His selection to the position was made
Create                  by the OPM Director. These circumstances, we believe, could give the
                        appearance of favoritism in the Chief of Staff’s selection over other
                        applicants for the position and created an unfavorable situation for OPM in
                        which, as the government’s principal agency charged with governing the
                        merit selection process, it placed itself in a position in which the merits of
                        its own personnel actions were subject to question.

                        In response to the administration’s National Performance Review call for
                        “reinventing” government, in 1994 the Director of OPM established the OPM
                        Redesign Task Force to study the organizational structure of OPM and to
                        recommend a design for the OPM of the future. Members of the task force
                        included OPM employees from management, employee groups, and unions.
                        The highest ranking member was the Director’s Chief of Staff. In August
                        1994, the task force proposed to the OPM Director that a number of OPM
                        service “centers” be created. One of the proposed centers was the
                        Partnership Center, which was intended to aid and encourage government
                        managers and government employee union officials to work together—in
                        partnership—in addressing government employment issues. According to
                        the OPM Director, the task force recommendations were referred to an OPM
                        Business Council to work on implementation issues and to propose
                        modifications as necessary. The Chief of Staff was a member of the
                        Business Council, but according to the OPM Director, the Chief of Staff was
                        not a member of the Business Council subgroup that was working on the



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Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
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Partnership Center proposal. The Business Council completed its
implementation plan in December 1994, and in January 1995, the Director
announced to OPM employees the plan for redesigning OPM, including the
establishment of the Partnership Center. According to a report by the OPM
Inspector General (IG),4 the Center’s business was to be handled by the
Chief of Staff with assistance from the OPM Director of Program
Management until OPM decided whether to provide permanent staff to the
Center.

In October 1995, after internal conditions stabilized, OPM decided to recruit
for several SES positions, including the Director, Partnership Center. The
Chief of Staff, along with other individuals, applied for the Partnership
Center position and was rated by OPM’s ERB as among the best qualified for
the position. As the selecting official, the OPM Director received the best
qualified list; from among those on the list, he selected the Chief of Staff
for the position. Because it would be the Chief of Staff’s first career
appointment into an SES position, OPM convened a QRB, which was
composed of SES members from other agencies, to review the Chief of
Staff’s qualifications for the appointment. The QRB considered him highly
qualified.

Concerns raised by the media about the selection of the OPM Chief of Staff
for the position of Director, Partnership Center, included claims that the
Chief of Staff was preselected for the position and that he had used his
political connections to “burrow” into a career government appointment in
order to obtain job security that is not afforded political appointees. We
also had concerns about the selection, because the Chief of Staff appeared
to play a key role in helping to create the position. His selection may have
had a negative effect on other agencies’ views on OPM as the lead
organization for ensuring that government agencies follow merit system
principles.

Partially as a result of the published criticism in this case, OPM’s IG
reviewed the case. The IG found that there were some administrative
oversights in the case that were common to many SES appointments within
OPM, but concluded that there was no legal or regulatory impropriety
regarding the career appointment of the individual in this case. From our
examination of the case, we also concluded that there was no evidence of
legal or regulatory impropriety.



4
 See OPM, Office of the Inspector General, Inspection Report: Selection to the Position of Director,
Partnership Center, April 1996.



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                        Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
                        Appearance of Preferential Treatment or
                        Favoritism




                        However, the appearance of favoritism or preselection cannot be easily
                        dismissed. According to OPM officials, the Chief of Staff had previously
                        worked closely with the OPM Director in a similar position for another
                        government agency, and the OPM Director recruited him for the position of
                        Chief of Staff at OPM. He worked closely with the Director of OPM for 3
                        years as the Director’s Chief of Staff, and he was selected for the career
                        position by the OPM Director. High ranking agency officials told us that
                        they were surprised that the political appointee applied, and was selected,
                        for the position because of the potential negative perceptions that the
                        public may have acquired in this case. Nevertheless, the agency officials
                        advised us that political appointees are not prohibited from applying, or
                        being selected, for career appointments in the government; in this case,
                        they believed the individual was the most qualified applicant for the
                        position.


                        In this case, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) actions in making a
Case 6: Political       career appointment to an SES position could give the appearance that the
Appointee               selected Schedule C employee received preferential treatment when VA
Participated on Panel   decided to reopen the competition for the position. The Schedule C
                        employee had served as a GS-15 Special Assistant to the Secretary of VA
Before Applying, and    from March 1993 to February 1996 before receiving a career SES
Being Selected, for     appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs on
                        February 11, 1996.
the Position
                        VA issued a vacancy announcement for a career SES appointment to the
                        position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs in
                        February 1995. The vacancy announcement was opened from February 22,
                        1995, to March 7, 1995, and sought applications from all persons qualified
                        within the federal government. According to an OPM document, a VA official
                        said that, just after the first announcement closed, the VA Assistant
                        Secretary for Congressional Affairs learned about some potential
                        candidates who had not applied. VA decided to reopen the announcement
                        for applications from April 5, 1995, to April 18, 1995. Candidates from the
                        first and second announcements were considered together after the
                        April 18, 1995, closing date.

                        The Schedule C employee who eventually received the appointment had
                        not applied under the first two announcements and had served on the
                        panel that rated the applications submitted under those announcements.
                        The screening panel considered all the minimally qualified candidates and
                        sent a list of 16 highly qualified candidates to VA’s ERB panel for



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Details of Six Cases That Could Give the
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consideration. The ERB ranked the candidates referred and identified the
five best qualified candidates, and then referred its list to the Assistant
Secretary for Congressional Affairs, who was the nominating official. The
nominating official selected a candidate and referred him to the Secretary
for approval. After the Secretary’s approval, the candidate, a White House
employee, was offered the appointment, but he declined the offer on
July 13, 1995.

Rather than selecting one of the other best-qualified candidates, VA
readvertised the position from July 26, 1995, to August 8, 1995, to
individuals within and outside the federal government. Documentation in
VA’s staffing file for this appointment indicated the reason for readvertising
the vacancy was that “so much time had passed, and because it was
decided that the search for candidates should be broadened . . . .” VA
notified previous applicants that they remained under consideration and
that there was no need to reapply. The Schedule C employee and an
additional 37 other candidates applied for the position under the third
vacancy announcement. Since the Schedule C employee had become a
candidate, he was replaced on the screening panel.

The screening panel again considered all the minimally qualified
candidates and sent a list of 20 highly qualified candidates to VA’s ERB. The
ERB reviewed the applications, identified the nine best-qualified
candidates, and referred them to the same official who would nominate a
selection for the VA Secretary’s approval. Of the nine, four had been on the
best-qualified list developed from the earlier vacancy announcements; and
five, including the Schedule C employee, were new. The Schedule C
employee, who at one time served as the congressional liaison for a
veterans’ organization, was nominated for selection.

On approval of the Schedule C employee’s selection by the VA Secretary on
October 12, 1995, his qualifications for the appointment were sent to OPM
for certification by a QRB. Because of the sensitivity of staffing actions
involving conversions of political appointees to career appointments, OPM
conducted a merit staffing review before submitting this case to a QRB. OPM
concluded that the staffing process appeared to have been conducted in
conformance with all applicable laws and regulations and forwarded the
Schedule C employee’s qualifications to the QRB. The QRB certified that the
employee was qualified for the SES appointment and informed VA that he
could receive a career appointment in the SES. The appointment was
effected on February 11, 1996.




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Appendix II

Data Collection Instrument Used




              Page 28             GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
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Data Collection Instrument Used




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Data Collection Instrument Used




Page 30                           GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix III

Listing of 50 Executive Branch Agencies and
Departments Reviewed and Criteria Used to
Select Them
               The criteria used to select the executive branch agencies and departments
               were: (1) all cabinet-level departments and agencies, (2) departments or
               agencies that had at least 50 political appointees on their rolls as of
               September 1995, (3) agencies that had oversight or other regulatory
               responsibilities for federal workforce issues, (4) departments or agencies
               having responsibility for international affairs issues, and (5) departments
               or agencies of particular interest to the congressional requesters of the
               review. As a result, the following 50 agencies and departments were
               identified:

               1. Department of Agriculture
               2. Department of the Air Force
               3. Department of the Army
               4. Department of Commerce
               5. Department of Defense (Office of the Secretary)
               6. Department of Education
               7. Department of Energy
               8. Department of Health and Human Services
               9. Department of Housing and Urban Development
               10. Department of the Interior
               11. Department of Justice
               12. Department of Labor
               13. Department of the Navy
               14. Department of State
               15. Department of Transportation
               16. Department of the Treasury
               17. Department of Veterans Affairs
               18. African Development Foundation
               19. Agency for International Development
               20. Commission on Civil Rights
               21. Commission on Immigration Reform
               22. Consumer Product Safety Commission
               23. Corporation for National Service
               24. Environmental Protection Agency
               25. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
               26. Export-Import Bank of the United States
               27. Federal Aviation Administration
               28. Federal Labor Relations Authority
               29. Federal Maritime Commission
               30. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
               31. Federal Retirement and Thrift Investment Board
               32. Federal Trade Commission



               Page 31                                      GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix III
Listing of 50 Executive Branch Agencies and
Departments Reviewed and Criteria Used to
Select Them




33. U.S. Institute of Peace
34. Inter-American Foundation
35. International Joint Commission, United States and Canada
36. U.S. International Trade Commission
37. Merit Systems Protection Board
38. National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities
39. National Labor Relations Board
40. National Mediation Board
41. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
42. Office of Government Ethics
43. Office of Management and Budget
44. Office of Personnel Management
45. Overseas Private Investment Corporation
46. Peace Corps
47. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
48. Small Business Administration
49. U.S. Information Agency
50. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative




Page 32                                       GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix IV

Career Appointments of Former Political
and Legislative Branch Employees Made by
18 Agencies at Pay Grades GS-13 or Higher
(Jan. 1, 1996, Through Mar. 31, 1997)
              Agency                                                              Number of appointments
              Agency for International Development                                                       2
              Consumer Product Safety Commission                                                         1
              Department of Agriculture                                                                  3
              Department of the Army                                                                     1
              Department of Commerce                                                                     2
              Department of Defense (Office of the Secretary)                                            6
              Department of Justice                                                                      4
              Department of Energy                                                                       1
              Department of Education                                                                    2
              Department of Health and Human Services                                                    2
              Department of Housing and Urban Development                                                1
              Department of Transportation                                                               1
              Department of the Treasury                                                                 3
              Department of Veterans Affairs                                                             2
              Federal Labor Relations Authority                                                          1
              Environmental Protection Agency                                                            2
              Office of Personnel Management                                                             1
              Commission on Civil Rights                                                                 1
              Total                                                                                     36
              Source: As reported by the agencies listed in the table.




              Page 33                                                    GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix V

Comments From the Office of Personnel
Management




              Page 34          GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix V
Comments From the Office of Personnel
Management




Page 35                                 GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix V
Comments From the Office of Personnel
Management




Page 36                                 GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix V
Comments From the Office of Personnel
Management




Page 37                                 GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Appendix VI

Appointment Authorities Used in the 36
Appointments We Reviewed


                                                                                                                                Number of
                                                                                                                             appointments
                                                                                                                        reviewed in which
                                                                                                                         the authority was
Appointment authority      Criteria for authority’s use applicable to the appointments reviewed                                       cited
Civil Service certificates Merit staffing plans of each agency                                                                          11
from competitive selection
process
Ramspeck Act of 1940 (5    An individual must (1) serve for at least 3 years in the legislative branch and be                            9
U.S.C. 3304(c))            paid by the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives;
                           (2) be involuntarily separated without prejudice from the legislative branch; (3)
                           pass a suitable noncompetitive examination (i.e., be qualified for the position being
                           sought); and (4) transfer to the career position within 1 year of being separated
                           from the legislative branch.
SES Recruitment and        OPM shall, in consultation with the various qualification review boards, prescribe                            8
Career Appointments        criteria for establishing executive qualifications for appointment of career
(5 U.S.C. 3393)            appointees. The criteria shall provide for (1) consideration of demonstrated
                           executive experience, (2) consideration of successful participation in a career
                           executive development program that is approved by OPM, and (3) sufficient
                           flexibility to allow for the appointment of individuals who have special or unique
                           qualities that indicate a likelihood of executive success and who would not
                           otherwise be eligible for appointment. Each career appointee shall meet the
                           executive qualifications of the position to which appointed, as determined in writing
                           by the appointing authority.
Schedule A                 Noncompetitive hiring authority for positions other than those of a confidential or                           5
(5 C.F.R. 213.3102)        policy-determining character for which it is impractical to examine.
Reinstatement              An agency may appoint by reinstatement to a competitive service position a person                             1
(5 C.F.R. 315.401)         who previously was employed under career or career-conditional appointment (or
                           equivalent). There is no time limit to the reinstatement eligibility of a
                           preference-eligible or a person who completed the service requirement for career
                           tenure. An agency may reinstate a nonpreference-eligible who has not completed
                           the service requirement for career tenure only within 3 years following the date of
                           separation. This time limit begins to run from the date of separation from the last
                           position in which the person served under a career appointment, career-conditional
                           appointment, indefinite appointment in lieu of reinstatement, or an appointment
                           under which the person acquired competitive status. The 3-year limit can be
                           extended for certain intervening service.
SES                        A career appointee who is appointed by the president to any civil service position                            1
Reinstatement              outside the SES and who leaves the position for reasons other than misconduct,
(5 U.S.C. 3593(b))         neglect of duty, or malfeasance shall be entitled to be placed in the SES if the
                           appointee applies to OPM within 90 days after separation from the presidential
                           appointment.
Senior Level Appointment   Merit staffing plans of each agency                                                                           1
(5 U.S.C. 5108)


                                             Source: SF-50Bs prepared by appointing agencies and applicable laws and regulations.




                                             Page 38                                                 GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
Related GAO Products


              Personnel Practices: Improper Personnel Actions on Selected CPSC
              Appointments (GAO/GGD-97-131, June 27, 1997).

              Hiring of Former IRS Employees by PBGC (GAO/GGD-97-9R, Oct. 2, 1996).

              Personnel Practices: Career Appointments of Legislative, White House,
              and Political Appointees (GAO/GGD-96-2, Oct. 10, 1995).

              Personnel Practices: Selected Characteristics of Recent Ramspeck Act
              Appointments (GAO/T-GGD-95-173, May 24, 1995).

              An Overview of Ramspeck Act Appointments (GAO/T-GGD-95-155, May 8,
              1995).

              Personnel Practices: Presidential Transition Conversions and
              Appointments: Changes Needed (GAO/GGD-94-66, May 31, 1994).

              Political Appointees: Turnover Rates in Executive Schedule Positions
              Requiring Senate Confirmation (GAO/GGD-94-115FS, Apr. 21, 1994).

              Political Appointees: 10-Year Staffing Trends at 30 Federal Agencies
              (GAO/GGD-93-74FS, April 30, 1993).

              Personnel Practices: Career Appointments Granted Political Appointees
              From Jan. Through Nov. 1992 (GAO/GGD-93-49FS, Jan. 22, 1993).

              Personnel Practices: Schedule C and Other Details to the Executive Office
              of the President (GAO/GGD-93-14, Nov. 6, 1992).

              Political Appointees: Number of Noncareer SES and Schedule C Employees
              in Federal Agencies (GAO/GGD-92-101FS, June 8, 1992).

              Personnel Practices: Details of Schedule C Employees to the White House
              (GAO/T-GGD-92-28, Apr. l9, 1992).

              Personnel Practices: Propriety of Career Appointments Granted Former
              Political Appointees (GAO/GGD-92-51, Feb. 12, 1992).

              Personnel Practices: The Department of Energy’s Use of Schedule C
              Appointment Authority (GAO/GGD-90-61, Mar. 8, 1990).

              Political Appointees in Federal Agencies (GAO/T-GGD-90-4, Oct. 26, 1989).



              Page 39                                       GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
           Related GAO Products




           Federal Employees: Appointees Converted to Career Positions, January
           and February 1989 (GAO/GGD-89-89FS, June 13, 1989).

           Federal Employees: Appointees Converted to Career Positions, October
           Through December 1988 (GAO/GGD-89-66FS, Apr. 24, 1989).




(410029)   Page 40                                   GAO/GGD-97-165 Personnel Practices
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