Today, 2.8 million people make up the civilian federal bureaucracy, and most cannot be fired, even for criminal activity, without a process akin to a civil trial with multiple appeals that can last years.
Some say the job security they enjoy is crucial to maintaining a government staff that is efficient, professional, and apolitical. The importance of maintaining these qualities in the federal workforce was the reasoning behind the first protections enacted in the 1880s, and they remain the primary arguments in favor of preserving those protections today. But the reality is that the civil service these protections have produced is neither efficient in carrying out its duties, nor immune to politics. Government efficiency is a joke, and with 95 percent of political donations from federal employees going to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, the only places more politically skewed than the agency workforce are university faculty lounges and Hollywood awards ceremonies.
Our government has become dysfunctional and unresponsive to the voters, breeding scandals both of inexcusable incompetence (at the VA) and of political weaponization (at the IRS).
The calcification of civil service protections is an under-reported cause of many of our government’s ills. Civil service reform— making working for the government more like working for any other employer—will improve efficiency, reestablish fairness to the American taxpayer, and restore some semblance of Constitutional governance, bringing us closer to a republic actually of the people, for the people, and by the people.