Sometimes, Congressional hearings do actually do some good. Â See, Congress has had it with the Secret Service. Â Several members from both sides of the aisle want the agency to let the people who have been causing all the scandal go. Â Quickly. Â From the Washington Examiner:
“You have got to have a system that has robust accountability,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., insisted at a hearing earlier this week. “And that’s the question that we’re looking at today, where is the accountability in the agency? It just seems throughout this saga with different problems, there’s no swift accountability.”
“There needs to be rapid response in these incidents â€“ we can’t put this into a bureaucratic process where I get an answer in eight weeks or 10 weeks,” Rep. Steve Lynch, D-Mass., told Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy….
The vast majority of the private sector in the United States works this way, but it seems that the federal government without an exemption that the Secret Service does not have does not.
…attorneys who specialize in federal labor law say Secret Service employees, after their first three years of probation, are part of the competitive civil service and guaranteed a series of due-process rights that the agency cannot simply ignore. Although other agencies are exempt from that system, legislation making that change for the Secret Service has not materialized.
So, here’s a quandary for Congress: there is an agency charged with protecting the president and his family at all costs, there have been appalling breaches in the ability to successfully execute that task of late, and no one will lose his or her job just yet because there is an entire due process protocol that must be followed because Secret Service agents are federal employees, and they haven’t gotten through it yet. Â In order to change this, and exempt the agency from those particular labor laws (as has happened in other security related departments and agencies), Congress must pass legislation to change the law. Â Otherwise, the director’s hands are tied, and all the hearings in the world will not change that.
In last week’s hearing where Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy was grilled as to what in the heck is going on within a department he was brought in to clean up, Rep. Jon Mica (R-FL) sympathized with him.
“Well, hell, you don’t have the ability to command, because your hands are tied by Title 5,” Mica said during Tuesday’s hearing, referring to the law that lays out the competitive service protections. “You can’t hire and fire. You have to go through this layer.”
“I chaired the Civil Service subcommittee,” he said, “And I know how difficult it is to get rid of folks, even discipline folks. Most people are just moved horizontally to some other position.”
So, cutting Mr. Clancy – and his predecessor Julia Pierson who did request that legislation changing the Title 5 problems be produced – a little slack on this would be in order. Â Mr. Clancy DID put the agents who ran an SUV into an active crime scene on moderated assignment and he did refer the case directly to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General for investigation. Â That was the proper way to go given the circumstances.
From the commentary attributed to labor specialists and lawyers, it looks like fixing the scandal issues at the Secret Service need to start with Congress, and the Foggy Bottom Theater fireworks should take a back seat to actually changing the law to give the Director the tools he needs to get the job done. Â If Mr. Clancy does not use those tools, then go after him.