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OPINION

Even the Deep State Needs an HR Department

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Contrary to popular belief, leftist bureaucrats do not reproduce themselves asexually in pods. Instead, the federal government, to replenish its ranks with an unending supply of fresh-faced (or is it sour-faced?) recruits, relies on an obscure agency called the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 

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If you've heard of the OPM at all, it's probably because, in 2015, it was guilty of allowing a truly massive data breach (one of the biggest of all time) that disclosed personal information, and even fingerprints, of millions of government workers to...mysterious forces in Red China. Oops! It wasn't the last time that the OPM would slip up in terms of cybersecurity, either.

The fact that OPM's computer experts can't think of a stronger password than “PASSWORD” is the least of the agency's problems, however. The OPM is suddenly taking center stage as one of the leading government departments in President Biden's comprehensive initiative to put wokeness and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) at the heart of federal government operations. The crown jewel in these efforts is Biden's “Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce.” It will, among many other things, greatly expand federal “diversity” infrastructure and bureaucracy (by forming “Agency Equity Teams”). And Section 14 explicitly states: “The Director of OPM is hereby delegated the authority of the President...for purposes of carrying out...this order.” Oh my!

When you think about it, the OPM's centrality in these efforts makes perfect sense. Tens of millions of Americans have already come to fear the depredations of the woke HR functionaries in their own companies and organizations, who wield the power of professional life and death over virtually every employed person in this country, and who do so, all too often, not in the interests of customer service, business efficiency, or basic fairness, but in abject subservience to CRT (critical race theory), on the assumption that racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia saturate American society and most workplaces, and based on the conviction that the essential purpose of business and government in the first place is to advance “social justice” at all costs. The federal government is not immune from this toxic HR culture, rooted in cultural Marxism. In fact, thanks to the OPM, the feds are dealing with a particularly bad case of HR insanity, and it's about to get much worse. President Biden's Executive Order ensures it.

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Keep in mind that, as the OPM girds itself for a long struggle to make the federal government, which is already perilously woke, even woker, the effectiveness of the federal bureaucracy in terms of its performance of its (nominal) functions is at a low ebb. Only a third of federal workers even show up to their offices these days, as two-thirds remain at home based on fears of COVID-19. Lest it be thought, however, that, with COVID mostly in America's rearview mirror, these federal bean counters are simply milking the pandemic for all it's worth, it should be pointed out that, as dutiful leftists and loyal CNN and MSNBC viewers, most of these poor dears are still afraid to leave their homes without an N95 mask covering every orifice. Be that as it may, the fact remains that federal government workers are notoriously lax in performing their duties and deficient in customer service – thanks in part to civil service and union protections that make it almost impossible to fire them. These problems have only gotten worse since COVID came on the scene.

Luckily, Congress is shining a bright light on many of these concerns. Congressman James Comer (R – Ky.), head of the Oversight and Accountability Committee, is leading the charge. According to Comer, “We have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of federal resources and to provide the best standard of service possible for the American public. We must work to ensure that the federal workforce can attract talented, service-minded Americans who work diligently and efficiently to deliver results for the American people.” 

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Service-minded employees who deliver results??? Sounds great, but Congressman Comer had better talk slowly and distinctly when in the presence of OPM bureaucrats. He's speaking a language that is every bit as dead to them as Latin or Sanskrit is to you and me.

Is there a solution here? Can the OPM's reign of administrative terror ever be brought to an end? Not easily, but a couple of potential fixes do suggest themselves. 

One, let's outsource as many OPM and federal bureaucratic functions as humanly possible to private businesses and organizations. While they are not immune from data breaches, DEI pettiness, and good, old-fashioned inefficiency, they are at least subject to market and competitive forces that ought to prevent the worst abuses. 

Two, where it isn't possible to privatize government functions, let's move as many federal offices and workers beyond the Beltway as possible. Federal employees lean left (and woke, and lazy, and self-satisfied) everywhere, but they become especially insufferable when they burrow extra deeply into the Deep State and become denizens of “the swamp.” Personally, I'd rather deal with a federal functionary in Wichita than Washington any day of the week.

Neither of these solutions will be easy to implement, of course – not with Sleepy Joe and the establishment types in Congress protecting the federal bureaucracy from accountability, and actually seeking to deepen the ties between it and our political, corporate, and cultural elite. If we want to have even an outside chance of driving a stake through the heart of the Deep State, though, we have to start somewhere.

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Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com. He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.

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