Monday, July 3, 2017

Cabinet secretaries’ tough task: Lack of funding, support for agency missions

As the Trump administration sets out to overhaul the federal government, a small group of Cabinet secretaries may have the most daunting task. They are running departments with missions they have sometimes disparaged, with employees who are secretly — and on occasion publicly — hostile. Across the agencies, these Cabinet members have made very public efforts to court their staff, yet frequently are crafting key initiatives in private. They are forming alliances where they can and skirmishing where they cannot. For the most part they have erected small, secluded citadels within each department, where they can advance policies that reflect the priorities of the ­president. At the Education Department, Secretary Betsy DeVos has been trying to build rapport with a leery staff, dining at times in the employee cafeteria and convening a group of LGBT employees to talk about hot-button issues relating to transgender students. But some employees complain they are being cut out of decision-making. The head of the financial aid division resigned in May, warning in a farewell email of severe constraints being placed on the ability of career officials to “make decisions and deliver on the organization’s mission.”

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