Political Appointees: Doers and Dolts!

Wednesday - 10/22/2008, 4:00am EDT

In a little less than three months, a new administration will be taking over. Regardless of who wins, there will be major changes in style, priorities and people in the upper levels of the government.

Several thousand new people, from cabinet officers to lower level Schedule C political appointees, will move into virtually every Executive branch department starting in January.

Some of the newcomers, as in the past, will be brilliant and help make the agencies where they are assigned better places. Some will come up with plans and programs that will cut costs while delivering services faster and better than before. They will earn (or at least deserve) the loyalty of the career staff they inherit. They can be effective without being popular. But good morale is nearly always a plus.

Some of the newcomers will be absolute dolts and losers. They may be political hacks, relatives of people in or out of government or related by blood, friendship or lust to major campaign donors. At the Pentagon they,in the past, are referred to as "the Christmas help" (with apologies to real, hard-working people who do take temporary Christmas jobs). They are, at best, harmlessly ineffective.

Some of the people will be former political appointees who managed to burrow into the civil service during the last 7 years. It happens with every administration. People change titles, switch agencies, then land elsewhere as career civil servants.

If the bipartisan past is prolog, some will earn greatly-deserved awards while on the job and when their average 18 month tour is up, they will get much better-paying private sector jobs. Others will mess up big time and, if you and the taxpayers are lucky, will be quietly booted out of the service.

Chances are your agency will get some of all of the above.

Meantime, we'd love to hear harrowing (or heart-warming) tales about political appointees you have known and loved or loathed. And why. So send me an e-mail. We'll share them (but keep your name out of it) and make some people feel better. Or at least feel like they are not alone. And it could be a help when the new team comes in to overhaul your agency and your job. So let us know, care of mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

And The Next President Is...

Folks who attend the October 27 luncheon of the Council of Former Federal Employees may get a sneak preview of who is going to be our next leader. COFFE's guest speaker is American University President Allan Lichtman. He's developed a system which use 13 key historical factors to predict the next president. COFFE says he's been right on the popular vote winner in each election since 1984. For information or reservations contact: ewormser@erols.com

Surviving The Stock Market!

Worried about your TSP balance? Should you buy, sell or wind your watch? Financial planner Arthur Stein says it's generally a bad idea to bail out of the market when it's down. That was the subject of Monday's column about missing the investment boat. Today at 10 a.m. EDT Stein will be my guest on Your Turn with Mike Causey. Listen in and call or e-mail us with questions. You can hear us in the Washington area at AM 1500 or on the internet at www.federalnewsradio.com.

Nearly Useless Factoid

The band, The Who, are banned from Holiday Inns.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com