Personnel Practices:

Career Appointments Granted Political Appointees From October 1998 Through June 2000

GGD-00-205: Published: Sep 18, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the appointment of political appointees to career positions in the executive branch, focusing on: (1) the number of political appointees who converted to career service positions between October 1, 1998, and June 30, 2000; and (2) certain information about the political positions they held and the career positions to which they converted.

GAO noted that: (1) 57 former political appointees and legislative branch employees were converted to career positions during the 21 months from October 1998 through June 2000; (2) nine appointees were former legislative branch employees, and the other 48 appointees were former political appointees at executive branch agencies; (3) the 57 appointments were made by 18 of the 45 agencies; (4) the other 27 agencies, according to their reports, did not appoint political appointees or former legislative branch employees to career positions; (5) most of the 57 appointments were at the Departments of Justice, Energy, Commerce, Defense, and Labor; (6) of the 57 appointments, 10 were to career positions in the Senior Executive Service, which is the federal government's top career management level; (7) another 38 career appointments were to career General Schedule positions, usually at pay grades 13, 14, or 15, which are the three highest GS pay grades; (8) 9 of the 57 appointments were to various other career positions, such as Assistant U.S. Attorney positions at the Department of Justice; (9) appointments frequently were made to newly established positions; (10) agencies reported making 25 conversions to new positions, and most of the appointees to these new positions were already employed at the appointing agencies; (11) the annual salaries appointees received upon their career appointments differed in many instances from the annual salaries they last received in their prior positions; (12) prior salary data were available for 56 appointments; and for 25 of them, the new salary and the old salary were identical or within $1,000; (13) for the remaining 31 appointments, the new salaries were higher or lower than the old salaries by more $1,000; (14) during presidential election years, because of the expected high turnover of political appointees, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) seeks to ensure that each political-to-career conversion complies with appropriate federal personnel rules; (15) on February 18, 2000, OPM issued a memorandum to agencies explaining its clearance process for conversions; and (16) as part of that process, OPM must approve each proposed conversion through January 2001.

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