President Joe Biden took the oath of office today to be formally sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, marking the starting point for a host of planned government policy changes that will impact the federal workforce.
Biden spent his inaugural address calling for unity across the nation to address the many challenges currently facing it, though many of his day-one actions as president will be to undo policy enacted under President Donald Trump.
Topping the list of changes is the rescinding of a series of workforce-related executive orders that made federal employees easier to fire, restricted government unions and established a new schedule of federal employees that do not fall under the standard civil service protections guaranteed to most feds.
Biden has been very vocal in support of unions, in general, and called out the protection of federal unions particularly as a day-one priority.
The new administration also has goals to improve the reputation of government service overall through promoting science-focused agencies, encouraging a diverse workforce and making the federal workplace a more attractive option for job seekers.
Biden’s plans also go beyond undoing some of the policies undertaken during the Trump administration. Among those are an executive order that would mandate ethical standards for government leaders, as part of restoring faith in government employees.
Trump himself demonstrated how difficult it is to make significant changes in the government and how essential it is for an administration to solicit buy-in from Congress and the federal workforce
Much like administrations before his, Biden will be reliant on the Senate’s ability to quickly question and approve over a thousand politically appointed leadership positions, the forefront of which are cabinet members and agency heads.
Nearly 3,000 political appointments will also need to be made without Senate consent to fill out many of the other leadership ranks across federal agencies, putting some career feds in a holding period before plans to enact Biden policy can be pursued.
Biden has yet to name a nominee to lead the Office of Personnel Management, who will be directly responsible for pursuing federal employee policy under the new administration.
Biden will also be taking up the reins of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring a quick and efficient distribution of vaccines to the over 300 million people living in the United States.
Already, his administration has signaled plans to require masks on all federal property as COVID cases continue to climb across the country.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.