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News Release

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

The following is a statement from Kevin Mahoney, Associate Director, Human Capital Leadership and Merit System Accountability, on the hiring of political appointees into career positions:

"The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has received several inquiries related to inaccurate media reports by The Washington Post and the Associated Press claiming Federal agencies have been ‘reassigning Bush appointees to career jobs' or ‘burrowing' Political Appointees. It is OPM's role to ensure all competitive service positions filled adhere to strict civil service laws and regulations, as well as the highest level of transparency during a transition period. OPM encourages qualified candidates from every background to apply for Federal vacancies.

"Historically, OPM has monitored and pre-approved all hiring actions related to political appointees prior to a Presidential election period through the end of an administration. As a matter of record, no political appointee has been ‘reassigned' to a career position since OPM began monitoring in March of this year. Some have applied to competitive service positions in the Federal Government and OPM will continue to approve or deny these applications through January 20, 2009. This oversight is conducted not to discourage qualified applicants, but rather to ensure merit system principles are upheld.

"Merit system principles demand consideration for the most-qualified candidates, regardless of their background. OPM subjects these hiring actions to the highest levels of scrutiny and oversight, and is confident in a process of fair and open competition. OPM has approved the hiring of some political appointees who have competitively applied for positions in the Federal workforce because they were the most qualified.

"OPM will enforce merit system principals--regardless of a candidate's political affiliation.  The United States Civil Service has greatly benefited the public by being open, by allowing ALL qualified candidates to compete, and by hiring the most qualified people to fill positions in the Federal Government. The American people expect and deserve no less."

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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