Rule Comes As Far-Right Attacks on Civil Service Reach Fever Pitch 

Washington, D.C. –A new federal rule will implement crucial steps to protect civil service workers. The rule, issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), will strengthen protections for nonpartisan civil servants across the country — the federal employees who serve the public regardless of the political affiliation of the President or partisan divides in Congress — from being replaced with political loyalists. 

“An independent civil service is critical to our democracy. We applaud the Biden administration for its strong efforts to protect the dedicated public servants who deliver essential services to families in every part of America, every single day,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward. “The thorough, deliberative,and exhaustive comment and input process this rule went through produced an extraordinarily strong rule, which cannot simply be undone by executive order. The Biden administration’s work on this important issue will help ensure the civil service will continue working independently to deliver for all Americans without threat of political interference.”

The Final Rule being issued by the Biden administration implements a number of safeguards for the civil service, including (but not limited to):

  • Affirming that the status and civil service protections a federal employee has obtained cannot be taken away, unless that employee gives up their rights voluntarily.
  • Clarifying that an exception to civil service protections for “confidential, policy determining, policymaking, or policy-advocating” positions only applies to political appointees, not to career civil servants who may be the target of future extremist attacks.
  • Establishing procedural requirements for moving positions out of the competitive service (where the vast majority of federal employees are classified), or between excepted service categories, creating transparency and an appeals process if such moves would strip a federal employee of their civil service protections.

This rule comes as attacks on the independence of the civil service are detailed in writing by Project 2025, a coalition led by former Trump administration officials, the Heritage Foundation, and over 80 other ideologically-aligned organizations. Democracy Forward detailed these threats in a recent report, making clear that Project 2025’s goal for a future anti-democratic administration would be to purge the independent civil service and replace them with ideologically-aligned individuals.   

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