Jane Hoey's Departure

In 1953, Hoey was fired by the new Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Ovetta Culp Hobby, in order to give her job to a Republican political appointee. This was a highly-publicized and controversial action at the time since Jane Hoey did not agree to a request for her resignation and was forced out.

Jane Hoey's position had always been a non-political, career civil service job, and Hoey was a career civil servant. Indeed, she had originally been appointed to her job by the first Chairman of the Social Security Board, John G. Winant, who was a former Republican Governor of New Hampshire. Originally, the Social Security program was run by a three-person bi-partisan Board, all of whom were political appointees subject to Senate confirmation. And even though the Act was passed during a Democratic Administration, the first head of the program was a Republican, deliberately chosen by President Roosevelt to emphasis the non-partisan nature of the program. However, in 1946, the bi-partisan Board was abolished and replaced by a single, politically-appointed Commissioner.

Virtually all of the original employees of the Social Security Board were hired under Civil Service provisions. Indeed, the Social Security Board was the first major federal agency to hire virtually all of its staff under the merit provisions of civil service reforms introduced during the Roosevelt Administration. Prior to this, it was the accepted practice to award virtually all government jobs based on political affiliations.

In any event, in 1953 the incoming Eisenhower Administration was frustrated by the number of high-level positions in the government that were filled with career executives, many of whom, like Jane Hoey, had been in place since the Roosevelt Administration. The President and his Cabinet Secretaries saw their election as a mandate to replace top-level officials with political appointees who were more obviously in sympathy with their objectives. One technique it used was to persuade the Civil Service Commission to reclassify a number of high-level jobs as political positions, so it could remove the incumbents and replace them with political appointees. This was done with Jane Hoey's job. Since she had Civil Service job protection, Jane Hoey was offered another job in a less-important position. At age 61, Hoey was one-year short of qualifying for her Civil Service retirement pension, and it was expected she would accept this job and serve out her remaining year then retire. Others in her position accepted these alternative jobs quietly; Jane Hoey refused to do so. Consequently, she was fired by the HEW Secretary. Thus ended Jane Hoey's pioneering role in Social Security.

(Documents Related to Jane Hoey's Dismissal)