President Joe Biden is inheriting a demoralized and broken White House Office of Management and Budget.
Former president Donald Trump chased off many of the career staffers in the office and replaced them with political loyalists, and the remaining workforce is exhausted from the chaos in the previous administration, reported Politico.
"You've got a staff that is tired," said one former OMB official who's served under Democratic and Republican presidents. "They've been running for four years and running in directions that they don't actually believe in. I don't know that they'll have the energy needed to respond in the way that the Biden administration would traditionally expect an OMB to respond."
Trump and his political allies sometimes pushed OMB staffers in legally questionable directions -- including the Ukraine extortion scheme that resulted in his first impeachment -- and the former president stripped civil servants of their authority and worker protections to give him more control of government agencies.
"Instead of OMB being a resource for the White House," the OMB veteran said, "[the Trump administration] turned OMB into a tool of the White House, and that's a very different thing. That's a dangerous thing."
Shaun Donovan, who served as former president Barack Obama's budget director, said "the damage is deep and wide" inside the OMB, which could undermine Biden's early efforts to address the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, as well as fulfilling campaign promises on infrastructure and climate change.
"I've seen these moments over and over again, and there is no comparison," Donovan said. "This is easily the most perilous and has the deepest damage to be repaired."