The DOJ IG’s report demonstrating the politicization of the Department implies the not-unreasonable suspicion that the Administration has done this throughout the government. They have had eight years to overlook the most qualified applicants, and put unqualified hacks from the “right” backgrounds into the civil service.
Remember how Regent University Law School boasted that more than 150 of its graduates were in the federal government? That’s not just at DOJ–they have been seeded in general counsel offices throughout the federal bureaucracy. We might even call them Conservative Movement Sleeper Cells.
This obviously confronts an Obama Administration with the formidable management task of separating the wheat from the chaff. (Not a problem if McCain wins because it would simply want to continue the Bush policy.). It seems to me that an obvious step would be to send IGs into all relevant agencies and arrive at reports detailing whether similar abuses occurred. Interior Department and EPA–I’m looking at you. Former Republican Congressmember Sherwood Boehlert would be an obvious choice to head such an investigation on appointees in scientific agencies. The point is hardly to find conservatives, or Republicans, or evangelicals: they can and should be serving at levels of the federal civil service. The problem is finding the incompetents.
What is less clear is the remedy: proceedings to strip unqualified appointees of civil service protection would be difficult enough, but it’s quite possible that the Bush civil service isn’t blatantly unqualified–it’s just mediocre.
I suppose that the best remedy would be shame: publicize the effort well, make sure that IGs of very strong integrity are appointed, and make the reports public and very clear. The principle is not to hide anything. I’m pretty sure Henry Waxman would cooperate with well-publicized hearings.
Putting together an action plan now would be a useful role for think tank geeks, because this effort will take a while. One might even say that it will be a long, hard slog.