I have served as a federal employee of the United States for close to three decades. I've been a public servant under five different Presidents during this same time period. This year, there has been a lot of talk lately about the oath all federal employees take and where their loyalties must lie. Personally, I don't understand why there is even a debate of what a federal employee signs up for when making this solemn promise. From my point of view, the meaning behind the oath is pretty straight forward and without question.
I posted the below content on Twitter but unfortunately it didn't get much play time so I thought I'd share the same information here on this blog. The Oath of Office is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:
An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Every federal employee should have taken this oath when they started their federal employment. Making this oath isn't just about filling in the paperwork but a promise made to the public and a pledge required by law before you begin your federal or military service. There is a recent article via the Federal News Network that does an excellent job explaining better than I could what this oath means for federal employees. The article is titled, "The oath of office and what it means", which I encourage you to read after you're done with your reading here. My favorite excerpt from the article below:
One thing that federal workers often hear is a career supervisor or political appointee talking about loyalty to the agency or the boss. One purpose of the Oath of Office is to remind federal workers that they do not swear allegiance to a supervisor, an agency, a political appointee, or even to the President. The oath is to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and faithfully execute your duties. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might fall victim to political whims and to provide a North Star – the Constitution – as a source of direction.
This is part of the blog post where I will usually add my own comments but I prefer not to this time around. I feel the oath is straight forward and any additional comments I make distracts from the oath itself. Just be aware there are those that are trying to muddy the water and claim loyalty is required elsewhere and it does not.
I conclude with this remark. This oath is probably the most important promise anyone serving our county can make. I took the oath on Monday, January 14th in the year 1991 and it remains the cornerstone of my federal career.