Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., received 176 pages of documents, but more than one-third of that was a photocopied version of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., received 176 pages of documents, but more than one-third of that was a photocopied version of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Patrick Semansky/AP

House Democrats Request Subpoena Over Interior's Senior Executive Reassignments

Oversight committee ranking member says Trump administration is stonewalling his efforts to investigate personnel actions.

The top House Democrat with oversight of the federal workforce requested a subpoena of documents related to the reassignment of dozens of senior executives at the Interior Department, saying the Trump administration has so far stymied efforts to bring transparency to the decisions.

Interior sent 176 pages of documents to Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in response to a request he made in October. More than one-third of that was a photocopied version of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, however, and Cummings said the rest was heavily redacted and failed to shine light on all of his questions. The department has faced criticisms from internal whistleblowers and outside groups for the reassignments of Senior Executive Service employees, alleging the transfers amounted to political retribution. About 15 percent of Interior’s career senior executives received proposed notices or notices of reassignment on June 15, 2017.

Cummings wrote his letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the oversight panel. Interior failed to provide any insight on the costs of the reassignments or how they would serve the best interest of taxpayers. Cummings asked Gowdy specifically to compel the department to provide unredacted documents and said the request falls “squarely within our jurisdiction.”

“One of our core responsibilities on the committee is to conduct vigorous oversight of agency reorganizations and the treatment of career federal employees,” Cummings wrote. He said if Gowdy declined to issue the subpoena himself, it should at least be put to a vote before the committee.

Republicans on the panel earlier in February blocked Democrats' efforts to submit 19 subpoenas to boost oversight efforts on an array of issues in the Trump administration. The reassignments, however, have stoked bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill.

The reassignments at Interior gained widespread attention when one SESer, Joel Clement, penned an op-ed in The Washington Post claiming he was sent to a job for which he had no relevant experience as punishment for speaking out on climate change issues. Clement said the reassignments had created a “profound chilling effect” at Interior and the department had become “like walking into a morgue.” A few months later, Clement resigned, citing what he identified as an “all-out assault on the civil service.”

Bill Valdez, president of the Senior Executives Association, has said Interior appeared to be using its "lawful authority" in assigning SESers, but also applauded Congress for using its oversight authority "to ensure that these personnel actions are proper and in the best interests of taxpayers." For its part, Interior has maintained that senior executives are supposed to move around and the transfers were designed to “better serve the taxpayer and the department’s operations.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.