Another week brings us another tale of Donald Trump’s misplaced priorities. Recent reports have surfaced that his transition team elected to skip an ethics course designed to prepare newly elected officials for their jobs. Although both the Obama and Bush administrations participated in the training, Team Trump did not find it necessary.
Suggested by the General Services Administration (GSA), the training would have covered leadership, management, and ethics for new Trump officials. A few days before the Presidential Election, the GSA submitted a Request for Quote (RFQ) to organizations interested in providing the program. Upon taking over the White House, the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) decided to nix it, forcing the GSA to withdraw its request.
Too bad there isn't Ethics training available for these guys. They would know lying under oath means jail.
— Mom-wench (@donna_neidert) March 3, 2017
Matthew Gormley, the Contracting Officer of the GSA, wrote in a letter to bidders:
“It has been determined that the requirements as defined in the RFQ do not accurately reflect the current needs of the Presidential Transition Team.”
He went on to further explain that the decision was made after Chris Christie was replaced by Mike Pence as the head of the transition team:
“As a result of a change in Presidential Transition Team leadership after the Nov. 8, 2016, election, there have been changes in the PTT’s goals for the political appointee orientation program.”
The main reason cited for skipping the training course was, of course, money. Officials argued that the $1 million program was too costly to implement, as their main priority was to stay under budget during the transition.
The irony here that the most unethical administration in recent memory. Doesn't feel it need ethics training fancy that ! https://t.co/fHY41ALwDg
— Adelino Camara (@ADIC33) March 3, 2017
Not everyone is impressed with this strategy for saving money. Many critics have pointed out that Trump officials seem unprepared to face ethical dilemmas at their new jobs. This is due to conflicts of interest and (apparently) a lack of training on the subject.
Norm Eisen, a White House ethics lawyer, spoke to Politico about the decision, saying:
“It looks like a good program, and I wish they had implemented it. It might have spared them the numerous ethics and other messes they have encountered.”
While spokespeople for the White House insist that everyone received proper training before taking their posts, one can’t help but wonder if Trump’s appointees are really prepared for the next four years.