Trump vs The Federal Bureaucracy? | Charles Duelfer

Trump vs The Federal Bureaucracy?

How will the bureaucracy respond to President Trump? There is in impression, though no real data that I am aware of, that most federal workers tend toward the democratic side of the political spectrum. I recall the distrust that accompanied the Reagan Administration when they came to power. There was deep suspicion on toward the national security bureaucracy. There was a high premium on finding staff who, a) knew the subject matter they needed, and b) could get things done in the system. The later was not easy. The bureaucracy is difficult to move i the best of times. They can work against a president by delay, by inaction, by withholding information, etc. Presidents come and go but bureaucrats tend to remain.
This is true even in the intelligence and national security fields. Some of them are deeply disappointed that Trump is president. They are experts in the system and how the system can block movement–there are myriad ways of obstructing changes in policy, organization, resources, etc.
There are ways to bring the bureaucracy along and even turn it into an asset. But that requires a lot of skill. You can’t, as much as you might like to, simply say, “You’re Fired.” It can take more energy and resources to remove someone than to simply work around them to achieve an objective. This may be a tough reality for a President Trump to deal with. He is going to need a really strong National Security Council and, less obviously, a very strong Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Then he will need real reach into all agencies. Whoever really runs the transition should be very attentive to this dynamic.

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