Cantwell Statement on Inspector General Report Regarding the Reassignment Process for Civil Service Employees at The Department of the Interior

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General released the findings of an investigation regarding the arbitrary reassignment of SES employees requested by Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

"Reassigning twenty-seven civil service employees with scientific or other technical expertise without following the required process is one more screw-up at taxpayer expense by the Department of the Interior. It does not protect our public lands or provide any stewardship,” Senator Cantwell said. “Reassignment in this case just means it’s easier for political operatives at Interior to circumvent the law."

Congress created the Senior Executive Service to ensure that the nation has the most highly motivated and highly competent executive management possible.  By law, SES assignments are required to be based on merit.  By law, SES members are protected from prohibited personnel practices and from arbitrary or capricious actions.
The Department of the Interior’s Inspector General’s investigation of the rash of SES reassignments at the Department of the Interior last year discloses that they were made without discernible basis or explanation, without adequate notice, and without reasoned decision-making. 
The Inspector General faults the Executive Resources Board, consisting of Secretary Zinke’s senior political staff, which made the reassignments.  The IG found that the Board “did not document its plan or the reasons it used when selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments.”