American Oversight Seeks OMB Documents in Ongoing Lawsuit for Records Related to Trump’s Authoritarian ‘Schedule F’ Plan

Tuesday, nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight asked a federal court to allow it to amend its ongoing lawsuit for records related to “Schedule F” — former President Donald Trump’s 2020 executive order aimed at turning the federal workforce into a bureaucracy of loyalists — to include requests to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

American Oversight sued the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in February for related communications with the Trump White House, as well as for guidance and directives and any records of internal dissent. Tuesday’s proposed amendment adds OMB as a defendant and now includes three additional public records requests to which OMB has failed to provide a sufficient response. 

Statement from American Oversight Chief Counsel Ron Fein: 

“Former President Trump’s Schedule F order was an alarming example of his corrupt and authoritarian impulses. His plans to reimpose the order if he’s elected again means we’re still in danger of our government being transformed into a workforce in which career expertise is purged in favor of blind loyalism. We’re suing because the American people deserve information about how the previous administration attempted to carry out this plan — and how he may do so again.”

The three requests to OMB to be added to the lawsuit seek:

  • communications of senior OMB officials with White House employees;
  • senior OMB officials’ communications containing key terms related to Schedule F; and
  • guidance, directives, and dissent memoranda regarding Schedule F.

In October 2020, Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a new Schedule F employment category for federal employees that stripped them of certain protections and made it easier to hire or fire workers. Nine days before President Biden took office, OMB received approval from OPM to convert 68 percent of its employees to Schedule F. 

The executive order was rescinded by President Biden shortly after he took office in 2021. This April, the Biden administration issued a new rule to make it harder — but not impossible — for a potential second Trump administration to reinstate a Schedule F policy. 

While OMB has released some records to American Oversight, the agency has failed to fully respond to the requests at issue in the lawsuit. The records that have been released, which contain details about Schedule F conversions that took place toward the end of the Trump administration, include:  

  • A letter dated Nov. 20, 2020 — a month after Trump issued the executive order — from OMB Director Russ Vought to OPM Acting Director Michael Rigas containing a list of positions to be put under Schedule F. Vought said that OMB had determined the positions to be of a “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character and not normally subject to change as a result of Presidential transition.”
  • A letter dated Jan. 5, 2021 — less than a week before OPM approved OMB’s request, as reported — in which Vought sent a list of additional positions to OPM to request approval for them to be converted to Schedule F.