No 'Witch Hunt' for Execs

January 24, 1997

No 'Witch Hunt' for Execs

Government executives targeted on a union hit list of "people in career SES positions who should be 'moved'" because they have bad relations with union officials need not worry, a top administration official last week assured the association that represents senior federal executives.

Elaine Kamarck, senior policy advisor to Vice President Gore, said in a letter to Senior Executives Association President Carol Bonosaro that any lists drawn up by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) would not be used against senior career managers.

"This administration does not request or make use of information on federal employees' support or non-support of agency missions for reassignment purposes," Kamarck wrote. "As you noted, the use of such information as a basis for personnel actions is expressly prohibited."

Last November, AFGE President John Sturdivant sent a memo to local union officials asking them to identify "career SES people who, based on specific experiences, you believe have been adverse to the mission of the agency." Sturdivant said the names of the targeted executives would be forwarded to officials in the Clinton Administration and possibly used to reassign them during the transition to Clinton's second term.

The SEA decried AFGE's plan as a "witch hunt," and told Gore that any lists AFGE sent to the administration should not be used against managers.

Bonosaro said that now that the Administration has prohibited the use of AFGE's lists, the association will make sure political appointees are not influenced by them.

"SEA trusts that all career executives' treatment will be fair and based upon their individual talent, effort, and accomplishments, and that all transition teams and administration appointees will follow the 'rules of the road,'" Bonosaro said. "Any who do not, however, should be assured that SEA will be diligent and tenacious in its efforts to protect the integrity of the career executive corps."

Mark Roth, AFGE's general counsel, said that the union does not appreciate having the program called unlawful, noting that AFGE has been drawing up lists of both commendable and adversarial managers since 1992.

"Unions spread sunshine on what's going on in the workplace," Roth said. He also said that most of the names AFGE receives are of executives who are committed to labor-management partnerships. "Ninety percent-plus of what we do is on the positive side."

So far this year the union has received about 20 names of managers who they think are a positive force in manager-employee relations and none who are adversarial, Roth said.

AFGE President John Sturdivant wrote in a letter to the editor of The Washington Times last week that AFGE had not gone against civil service law by identifying good and bad managers.

"Federal civil service law expressly allows for the consideration of personnel statements if they are based on personal knowledge or records and consist of an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, general qualification, character, loyalty or suitability of the individual in question," Sturdivant wrote.

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