Playing Hardball With a Burrower
This is not about politics. Rather, it's about dealing with an employee who—for whatever reason—may not be trusted and can't be fired.
As Juliet Eilperin and Carol D. Leonnig pointed out in the Nov. 18, 2008 edition of The Washington Post:
The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.
So is it possible to get rid of “protected” burrowers who refuse to leave of their own accord?
Very early in my checkered career, I heard of a technique one company used to persuade an unwanted employee to leave.
The Obama administration has to deal with some flotsam and jetsam left over from the Bush years that could get in the way of its agenda—appointees who managed to worm their way into civil service jobs and can't be fired.
The most fascinating case is that of Dr. Kathie Olsen, formerly second in command at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She was deeply embroiled in the oil-industry funded Bush-Cheney campaign that (1) denied the climate was changing and (2) claimed that whatever small changes may be occurring were definitely not caused by humans. As reported by Eleanor Schor on TalkingPointsMemo.com:
Before becoming deputy director of the NSF, Olsen was the associate director of the Bush White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Her immediate boss there was Bush science adviser John Marburger, who was implicated in the 2007 censorship of congressional testimony that would have publicly illustrated the human health risks of the warming climate. Remember Phil Cooney, the once and future oil industry representative who habitually erased from government documents any evidence that fossil fuels cause global warming? It was Olsen who first handed Cooney a debunked, Big-Oil-underwritten study that purported to disprove the existence of climate change. ... [Cooney] responded with an enthusiastic, “Thanks, Kathy!”