A surprising number of officials within the Biden administration are holding their offices in violation of federal law, as reported by the top government watchdog for the nation.
The Government Accountability Office has recently released a total of five separate reports which highlight that the officials, who are currently working in “acting” roles while the true Executive Branch positions are vacant, have held their offices for FAR too long, now in full violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The positions include the Assistant Secretary of ICE, a member of the Office of Management and Budget, 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 a presidential appointment and Senate confirmation,” the GAO states in a report 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, which is marked as a part of the legislative branch, puts out letters to both Congress and the president in order to openly report flagrant violations of the law.
The officials who have held their roles beyond the legal time limit for federal law include:
- Charlotte A. Dye, the acting General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority
- Deidre Harrison, the acting Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management within the White House Office of Management and Budget;
- 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);
- 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)
Any government position which would require appointment by the president with Senate confirmation fall under the label of a PAS position. When a newly elected president is first inaugurated or an official departs from their position currently held during the presidency, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act lets those positions be temporarily filled by “acting” officials for a length of about 210 days. This time period has the chance to be extended for up to 90 days when a new president is officially inaugurated, capping out at no greater than 300 days. Inside of each office, the direct subordinate of the official is the one who steps up to fill the role. However, the president can call on someone to fill the role — 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.”
The law states that the vacancies can be filled by acting officers while the Senate looks over various nominations. Once the Senate chooses to confirm a nominee, that person officially takes over the role. If no one is selected in the given time period, the office must sit vacant until someone is appointed and confirmed.