Personnel Practices:

Career and Other Appointments of Former Political Appointees, October 1998-April 2001

GAO-02-326: Published: Feb 26, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 2002.

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Political appointees in the federal government sometimes seek appointments to career positions, which do not end with an administration. Although merit system principles require that selections be determined solely on the basis of merit after fair and open competition, questions have been raised about whether some individuals have received political favoritism or an unfair advantage, even the appearance of which could adversely compromise the integrity of the system. The 45 agencies GAO surveyed reported that 100 employees converted from political appointments and 11 converted from congressional staff positions from October 1998 through April 2001. All the conversions took place at 21 agencies. Ninety-five of the 111 conversions were to positions at the GS-12 level and above. GAO found that the 21 agencies used appropriate appointment authorities, such as civil service certificates from the competitive selection process, and generally followed merit system procedures. In 17 instances, however, the appointments could give the appearance that individuals had received political favoritism or preferences.

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