Two pieces of note for whistleblowers and their supporters from Government Executive.

One reported on a survey that posed this question, which was answered by nearly 700 federal workers.

Please complete the following sentence: “The attacks on the whistleblower by President Trump and various Congressional Republicans have made it ________ likely that I will report an act of perceived wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities.”

Nearly 35 percent said “much less” or “somewhat less.” A full half said the attacks would not change their behavior.

Another piece reports on an attempt to protect those who do blow the whistle by adding a provision to the defense spending bill. It would have allowed the Office of Special Counsel to request a 45-day stay on a personnel action. The board hears appeals of lower level personnel decisions, including whistleblower cases. It has not had a quorum since just before President Trump took office. So, cases before the panel are stalled, with a backlog of over 2,000.

The House provision would  have allowed MSPB’s general counsel—currently Tristan Leavitt, who is also serving as the agency’s executive director—to order a 45-day stay of any personnel action that he believed was a prohibited personnel action, including whistleblower reprisal. The Senate version of the bill did not include the provision, and the House conceded.  

All this is happening as Trump allies continue to demonize government workers as part of a “deep state” conspiracy theory. How deep is it? The survey found that 37 percent of employees approve of Trump, compared to 55 percent who disapprove. Not hugely different from Trump’s 40-ish percent approval rating.

While Brietbart and Fox New pundits trumpet the deep state theory,  Government Executive and several other publications have explored the effort to politicize civil service.

As the Trump era has unfolded, the term “deep state” has come to mean something sinister to some on the far right. More than just signifying an impersonal, inept bureaucracy, it conjures a secretive illuminati of bureaucrats determined to sabotage the Trump agenda…

Chris Lu, President Obama’s deputy Labor secretary, rejects the notion that some entrenched deep state is undermining Trump’s political appointees. “The politicals set the direction of the agency, but they can only do it effectively if they tap into the expertise of the federal civil service,” he said.

The New York Times story about the parade of civil servants marching up to Capitol Hill featured this headline: Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him

The House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats is the climax of a 33-month scorched-earth struggle between a president with no record of public service and the government he inherited but never trusted. If Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, it will be in part because of some of the same career professionals he has derided as “absolute scum” or compared to Nazis.

More on the topic below:

The New Yorker: Trump vs. the “Deep State”

Wired: So Much for the Deep State Plot Against Donald Trump

The Washington Post: There is no ‘deep state’ — but maybe there should be