At DHS there was tension between the careerists in charge of FOIA requests and the political appointees.
Without any knowledge of the particulars I'd suggest the following could be true:
- the political appointees are young. Except at the highest levels, political staff appointees tend to be whippersnappers on the way up, looking to make their mark. They've attached themselves to the bigwigs (i.e. Secretary and below), or rather they've successfully networked with the bigwigs.
- the political appointees are inexperienced. Likely they don't arrive with an extensive background in the rules of FOIA, or the agency or department. Likely they don't arrive with a lot of experience managing people.
- the political appointees are attuned to the expectations of the Secretary and the President. That's their reference group; that's who they want to impress.
- the career employees are old. The political appointees are dealing with the top of the career hierarchy, which usually means people who've risen within the ranks, meaning they're older.
- the career employees know the rules and the agency.
- the career employees have seen political appointees come and go, so they're likely to be skeptical of them and their new ideas. By the same token, they're less impressed with the Secretary and the President than the appointees.