Friday, November 11, 2005


Word of the Day

apparatchik, plurals apparatchiks, apparatchiki:

  1. A member of a Communist apparat.
  2. An unquestioningly loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization.
  3. A recently hired mid-level manager or supervisor in the U.S. Park Service (Government Service grades 13-15). offers a Wikipedia commentary on the word's origin—

Since members of the "apparat" were frequently transferred between different areas of responsibility, often only loosely related to professional training (if any) of the person, usually the term apparatchik, or "member of the apparatus" was the best possible description of the person's profession and occupation.

The term was usually associated with a specific mindset, attitude and appearance of the person, and when used by "outsiders" it often bore derogatory connotations.

The need to include certain Park Service personnel in the definition is made clear by a story from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)—

The National Park Service has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions, according to an agency directive.... Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.

The October 11, 2005 order ... requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots ... include the “ability to lead employees in achieving the …Secretary’s 4Cs and the President’s Management Agenda.” In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and “the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks,” the number three political appointee in the agency.

The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.

The order applies to all hires for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers, such as chief ranger or the head of interpretive or cultural programs. Overall, the policy applies to more than 1,000 mid-level management and supervisory positions in the Park Service.

“Presidents come and go but the civil service is designed to serve whoever occupies the swivel chair in the Oval Office,” [PEER Executive Director] Ruch added. “It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee.”

Downright creepy? The order was released October 11. Maybe it was just for Halloween.

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