Is recovery possible when “they” inevitably go after you?
During your government service, you may find yourself demoted to a special-assistant job assigned to a dingy office without access to the people running the agency. The press no longer calls for your comments. Invitations to deliver speeches become rare. You are an outcast. You are serving time.
Suppose a new political appointee comes to town and wants to move you, a senior career executive, out of your job so the new assistant secretary can have his own team, or maybe you have a disagreement with your boss. In this circumstance, as a senior executive, you should understand that your boss can do whatever he wants. Sure, he has to give you 15 days’ notice and discuss the matter with you, but he can do whatever he wants. The matter is a bit more complicated if he wants to move you outside the commuting area, say from Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska; then 60-days’ notice is required. Your best strategy is to try to have a say about where and when he will move you. Check out vacant senior executive positions in the agency, identify jobs you would like and campaign for one of them.
If you work in government for many years, it is likely someone will come after you, especially after a new president takes office. Unless your case draws media attention, you have a couple of choices if the new political appointee sends you to purgatory. You can keep your chin up and be above it all, or you can complain about your predicament to anyone willing to listen. Few people are likely to care, and some are actually happy to see you suffer because of your past deeds affecting them.
I have seen senior officials choose each road. Some take the high road, performing in their reduced role without complaint, possibly returning to a prominent position when the agency leadership changes, as it always does eventually. There is no guarantee, though. However, those taking the low road, complaining endlessly, usually become bitter and fade into oblivion. If you feel you cannot bear your exile, it is better to leave the agency or even the government entirely before allowing your character and reputation to become permanently impaired. In many ways, it is not if they go after you, but when. The question is how well you respond when it happens to you.
Source, Chapter 17, Spring Training for the Major Leagues of Government
Understanding and working through the many challenges in high-level government jobs.