Just two days after taking office, President Joe Biden reversed former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13957, which had dramatically expanded the potential number of political appointees in the executive branch and stripped thousands of career officials of their civil service protections. President Trump’s order created a new “Schedule F” of the federal excepted service, converting certain career officials holding “positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character” into political appointees and exempting them from civil service protections. As we explained at the time, President Trump’s order had the potential to significantly change the number of “covered executive branch employees” under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA).
Among other actions to strengthen the federal merit system and collective bargaining rules, President Biden’s order revoked Executive Order 13957 in full, eliminating Schedule F, and ordered the heads of all federal agencies to “immediately suspend, revise, or rescind proposed actions, decisions, petitions, rules, regulations or other guidance pursuant to, or to effectuate” the order, and to “cease processing or granting any new petitions that seek to convert positions to Schedule F or to create new positions in Schedule F.”
While the President’s new order fully restores the pre-Trump status quo with respect to the excepted service, it moots the question of whether the President can—inadvertently or not—create new “covered executive branch employees” for the purposes of the LDA.