California Lawmaker Wants to Get Rid of Cheapest Workforce – 120,000 Feds

Categories: DoD

The Department of Defense, the largest federal agency, has three workforces: military, civilian, and contractor. The civilian workforce is the cheapest, often two to three times cheaper than contractors doing the same work. If anyone wants to reduce the number of workers, citing fiscal constraints, you’d think he/she would target the most expensive workforce, right? Not Rep. Ken Calvert of California. He has re-introduced a bill that would cut nearly 120,000 civilian jobs without reducing the workload. The workload of these 120,000 employees would likely go to contractors as Calvert’s bill doesn’t require any cuts in service contract spending, which has doubled over the last 10 years.  The legislation would also give managers significant discretion in determining which civilian employees would be fired.  

In introducing the bill, Calvert cited a few misleading facts surrounding the increased number of defense civilians. It’s misleading because, according to the Government Accountability Office, there were good reasons the number went up:

  • Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld converted military positions to civilians to return military members to operational duties and save $20 billion as military personnel are more expensive than civilians.
  • After years of allowing contractors to be supervised by contractors, which resulted in conflicts of interest and abuse, DoD finally brought on board civilian acquisition specialists to protect the government and taxpayers.
  • More civilians were hired to help fight the increasingly important cyber war to protect the department and the government from both inside and outside threats.
  • Doctors, nurses and other medical workers have been hired to care for wounded warriors.
  • To save money and protect the sensitive nature of government work, DoD brought back in-house some functions previously performed by expensive contractors.  

“Civilian employees are actually in short supply and DoD has to use more expensive military personnel to perform routine functions,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “It doesn’t make any sense to impose even more cuts.” 

So far there are six members of Congress who have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill:  Rep. Eric Crawford of Arkansas; Rep. Duncan Hunter of California; Rep. Darrell Issa of California; Rep. Devin Nunes of California; Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin; and Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana.   

The same legislation was introduced last year, and there were fears that it would be offered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act or the Defense Appropriations Act.  However, the bill was rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike.  Nevertheless, Rep. Calvert believes that the new Congress will be more receptive.  AFGE is taking this threat to the civilian workforce very seriously.  


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