The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee expanded its quest for documents related to "political burrowing", requesting information from 23 executive agencies.

Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter July 20 requesting documentation for all conversions of political appointees to career positions within the agencies since Sept. 1, 2015.

Related: Read the letter

The practice of such conversions, known as "political burrowing," has been a hot topic because of the election year, with Chaffetz recently also requesting extensive documentation from the Office of Personnel Management.

Chaffetz expressed concern in the letter that the conversions could favor political appointees over qualified applicants, creating an air of favoritism.

"Conversions also create morale problems, in that qualified career applicants who lose out on promotions to applicants from the agency's political staff can rightly wonder if the process was legitimate," he said.

"The appointing officials must ensure each conversion of a political appointee to a career position results from a fair and open competition.  Hiring decisions must be free from political interference, legitimate, and justified."

The conversions are legal, so long as the appointees are not given competitive advantages when applying for career jobs in the civil service.

OPM, who must approve any conversion, requires any political appointee who has worked for the administration within the past five years to obtain written authorization in order to apply for a Senior Executive Service position.

The agency released additional guidance on Jan. 11 on how to process the conversions, including presenting the case for such conversions to Qualifications Review Board for evaluation.

Chaffetz has been on somewhat of a quest to examine the topic of political burrowing, having previously sent other requests of documentation and asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate.

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