Thursday 9 February 2023

Multiple Biden Admin Officials Held Their Positions In Violation Of Federal Law: Reports

 Multiple Biden administration officials are in office in violation of federal law, according to the nation’s top government watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office issued five separate reports indicating that the officials, who are working in “acting” roles while the Executive Branch positions are vacant, have occupied their offices for too long, in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The positions include a member of the Office of Management and Budget, the Assistant Secretary of ICE, and a top official in the Department of Justice.

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 “establishes requirements for temporarily filling vacant positions in Executive Branch agencies that require presidential appointment and Senate confirmation,” the GAO reports on its website. “This act identifies who may temporarily serve, for how long, and what happens when no one is serving under the act and the position is vacant.” The GAO, an agency of the legislative branch, issues letters to the president and Congress to report violations of the law.

The officials who have stayed in their position beyond the limits of federal law are:

  • Deidre Harrison, the acting Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management within the White House Office of Management and Budget;
  • Allison Randall, the acting Director of the DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women;
  • Tae D. Johnson, the acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE);
  • Karen Freeman, Craig Hart, and Ann Marie Yastishock, all of whom served as the Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID);
  • Charlotte A. Dye, the acting General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority

Government positions that require presidential appointment and Senate confirmation are called PAS positions. When a new president is inaugurated or an official departs from his or her position during the presidency, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows those positions to be filled by an “acting” official for a period of 210 days. That time period can be extended for up to 90 days when a new president is inaugurated, for a total of 300 days. In each office, the direct subordinate of the official assumes the acting role. However, the president can nominate someone to fill the position — either “an individual serving in another PAS position; or a senior agency officer or employee who has served for a minimum period of time prior to the vacancy.”

Under the law, the vacancies can be filled by acting officers while the Senate considers these nominations. Once the Senate confirms a nominee, that person takes the office. However, once the time period of permissible service under the law has expired, the particular government office must remain vacant, and only the head of each particular agency can assume the duties of the vacant office.

According to the GAO, Harrison has served as acting Controller since March 2021. She was allowed to continue serving while a nominee was considered. But from August 2, 2022, she continued to serve in violation of the Act. Randall has served since May 26 in violation of the Act; Johnson has served since November 16, 2021; Dye has served since November 16, 2021. Freeman, Hart, and Yastishock combined served from November 16, 2021 until August 8, 2022, in violation of the law, the GAO found.

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