(Guest article by Paul Gilbert) Donald Trump was elected President based on, among other things, his promise to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, DC … but he has not yet delivered. The reasons for this failure are threefold: First, Trump had no firsthand knowledge of the workings of the executive branch; second, his initial appointees were somewhat naively based on their early support for his campaign and/or their curriculum vitae, and not necessarily their ability to navigate through the swamp; and third, frankly, he vastly underestimated the extent of the “Deep State” … particularly the so-called “intelligence community.” It should also be pointed out that Trump’s expressed preference for “interim” or “acting” appointees has not served him well.
President Trump can still have an impact here, whether he has one year left … or five years; however, he needs to very aggressively move forward with a 4-step plan … and start now!
First, he should seek counsel from a few trusted Senators, House members and close aides who can offer candid opinions on the effectiveness of current secretaries and identify potential replacements for some. Some might call this a “Star Chamber” … but who cares? The group would also have more familiarity with mid- to high-level “operatives” in key departments … and “flagged” if they are suspected of working to “resist” the Trump agenda. As a result, certain secretaries should be terminated immediately and escorted out of their offices, while trusted others should be reassured of their tenures. Then, with the involvement of the secretaries retained and newly appointed, a similar assessment of all deputy and assistant secretaries and all “exempt” personnel should be undertaken … and their dispositions swiftly implemented. Priority should be given to the CIA, DOD, DOJ, FBI, Homeland Security, State, Treasury and Environment.
For example, Christopher Wray would surely be deemed a horrible selection to head the FBI and be terminated immediately … and replaced with someone like Matthew Whitaker. And unless there is some compelling reason to retain them, any Obama-era holdovers in exempt positions at the FBI … or any agency … should be shown the door immediately!
Second, “exempt” Human Resources personnel in every department should be quickly dismissed and replaced with recommended appointees that have a substantial working knowledge of federal labor laws surrounding hiring and firing. Lacking such experience, outside consultants should be brought on board. Very deliberately, each and every mid- to high-level “career” employee should have a “performance” evaluation, including a review of their social media account(s), political affiliation (from voter rolls),
etc. Where employee “performance” is deemed unsatisfactory, the employee should be terminated immediately or put on a path toward termination. If there is any question about the unbiased dedication of any employee, those employees should be re-assigned to non-critical jobs and relocated within their respective agencies and, ideally, they should report to another physical location (that is terribly inconvenient for them).
Third, agency heads should replace terminated employees or employees who resign (as a result of their new assignments or new work locations) on a case-by-case basis. In addition to meeting the necessary education and experience requirements, applicants’ social media accounts should be scoured, and prior employers should be “carefully” queried about any factors, particularly political leanings, that may have affected or influenced the applicants’ dedication to his/her work. A preference should be given to applicants with prior work experience that included interacting with local, state or federal elected officials, and “references” from these officials should be requested. Very quietly, a hiring preference would be given to applicants with strong references from conservative officials.
And Fourth, wherever operational efficiencies can be demonstrated, parts of all federal agencies should be relocated outside of the Washington, DC area, and into more central areas of the country … generally consistent with the recently-introduced Hawley/Blackburn senate bill. This would not only help de-construct a bloated federal government, but it would bring economic development opportunities to neglected areas of the country, and also provide the agencies with a potential workforce that possesses values and a work ethic that greatly differ from those that have become commonplace within the permanent, massive, “inside the beltway” bureaucracy. This would be a breath of fresh air.
Clearly, President Trump has his hands full these days; however, unless he gives the same priority to draining the swamp as he has to his appointments to the Supreme Court, the “Deep State” will simply outlast his Administration … and flourish once again when a Democrat takes the oval office.