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Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins

The Frances Perkins Center is hosting several upcoming events celebrating our first female cabinet member and still the longest-serving Secretary of Labor. The first is this Tuesday (4/21) at 4:00 PM at the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building, 200 Constitution Ave. The recent Perkins biography by Kirstin Downey is discussed here.

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Despite much speculation here and elsewhere about “burrowing,”  you’d be hard pressed to find a bolder treatment than the one offered by Steven L. Katz in GovExec.com today. Katz argues:

The time to take action against burrowers is now. The people approving and benefiting from burrowing in should be identified, enabling personnel actions reversed, and the offending parties led out of government. The Democrats coming into office should use their relationship with the outgoing Bush administration as well as their power on Capitol Hill to take action. Read the rest of this entry »

burrowing  The headlines are abuzz with charges of appointee burrowing, an informal term for  the process of a political appointee applying for and receiving a career position in a  federal agency.

  Appointees often apply for career jobs in the agencies they oversee through a  competitive process, presumably to remain in the agency after a new presidential administration makes new appointments.

Some have questioned the qualifications of appointees who were hired as careerists in the waning days of the Bush administration. Critics questioned whether appointees with no apparent scientific credentials should be hired in top career positions in scientific agencies, with the protections of civil service tenure. Agency officials, however, maintain that scientific credentials are not necessary for all management jobs and that the hiring process is open and competitive.

All applications for career positions are required to follow Office of Personnel Management rules to ensure fair and open civil service hiring.

A recent Mother Jones article reports that:

“There is little data on burrowing trends, but in late 2007, a team of political scientists that included [David] Lewis and the University of Hawaii’s David Nixon conducted a survey of federal executives that asked several questions on the topic. Of the more than 2,000 officials who responded, nearly 2 percent acknowledged that they had converted from political to career jobs.”

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