Civil Service Reform for the 21st Century: Restoring Democratic Accountability to the Administrative State

by Inez Feltscher Stepman

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Introduction

During his inaugural speech, newly-elected President Trump declared that “what truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” Many commentators took the President’s statement as a declaration of war against the political establishment of both parties. Once Trump assumed office, however, it became clear what permanent, entrenched establishment most stood in his way: the administrative state. In just the first month of the new administration’s tenure, the fourth branch of government—the so-called “deep state”—has sprung into action to oppose the policies it has tried to advance. While Trump was able to fire some Obama-era political appointees, such as acting Attorney General Sally Yates, numerous lower-level employees—protected by more than a century old laws that have expanded well beyond their original intent—have organized to derail the new president and nearly any policy initiative he attempts to advance.

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