The Government Accountability Office, a watchdog group, revealed on Wednesday that multiple “acting” officials in the Biden administration have exceeded the time limitations of their temporary titles and are currently in positions unlawfully, the New York Post reported.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 determines who may temporarily fill vacant positions in the executive branch and limits how long one may serve. The act sets a 210-day limit after a role becomes vacant and a 300-day limit after a presidential inauguration. Acting officials may only lawfully exceed those time restrictions if a permanent nomination is pending, withdrawn, or rejected.
“The act requires executive departments and agencies to report to the Congress and to the Comptroller General certain information about a vacancy immediately upon the occurrence of events specified in the act,” the GAO reported. “The act also provides that the Comptroller General is to report to specified congressional committees, the President, and the Office of Personnel Management if the Comptroller General determines that an acting officer is serving longer than permitted by the act.”
The watchdog group recently revealed that three acting officials have exceeded the act’s time restrictions, including Deidre Harrison, the acting controller at the Office of Management and Budget; Allison Randall, the acting director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women; and Charlotte A. Dye, the acting general counsel at the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
The GAO reports violations of time limitations and compliance to the president and Congress.
In a letter from the GAO addressed to Biden on Wednesday, the watchdog group noted that Dye was placed in the acting general counsel role on November 16, 2021 – 449 days ago. Similarly, Harrison and Randall were also hired to their temporary positions that same month.
According to the letters, violation notifications were sent to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, and the director of the Office of Personnel Management.
The New York Post reported that the notifications of violations open the agencies up to lawsuits that could invalidate decisions and policies enacted by those acting officials who remained in their positions unlawfully.
According to the Vacancies Act, the GAO explained, “If an individual who is neither the agency head nor acting in accordance with the act performs such functions or duties, those actions have no force and effect and may not be ratified,” the GAO explained.
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