Hiring Freeze Is NOT Really Over

On January 23, President Trump signed an executive order issuing a hiring freeze for just about every federal worker with few exemptions. On April 12, the administration issued a directive “lifting” the freeze but also directed agencies to immediately cut the workforce.

So this is not a green light to hire but a directive to cut.

The memo directs agencies to “begin taking immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint.”

That budget blueprint laid out major cuts to agencies.

The memo goes on to say that these actions should “create a lean, accountable, more efficient government that works for the American people.” We have no idea how the administration’s plan to close two EPA offices and slash nearly 4,000 positions at the EPA, for example, would make the agency more “efficient.”

The underfunded and understaffed EPA actually needs more people to handle major projects like cleaning up contaminated sites or fixing drinking water problems. The work the EPA does is life and death to the American people. The relatively clean air and water we have today did not just happen – it’s a direct result of EPA’s work decades ago. American cities suffered serious air and water problems before the EPA stepped in.

While the Office of Management and Budget wants the whole thing to come off as making the government more “efficient,” its directive tells a different story. The emphasis is more on workforce reductions and program eliminations rather than thoughtful analysis of the country’s needs. In fact, the word “eliminate” appears 23 times in the 14-page memo. The words “reduce” or reduction” appear 25 times. While it’s asking agencies to come up with “reform” plans, it directs agencies to “begin planning for these [workforce] reductions now.” Eliminating certain vacant positions agencies can also begin immediately. These thoughtless cuts will devastate the government and hurt the American people. 

The memo issued by the White House’s budget office comes as agencies are struggling to handle an increasing workload with fewer employees. About 100,000 federal employees retire or leave the government every year. Compared with the population it serves, the government is not big like what the administration wants you to believe. Trump’s hiring freeze didn’t help, and his new order to get rid of even more employees will make it worse.

But that’s the point.

“This is a big part of draining the swamp,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters. “This is a centerpiece to his campaign.”

And the American people will suffer.

Tell us how the administration’s push to eliminate positions and programs is hurting your agency’s ability to carry out the work of the American people! Send a comment using a non-governmental computer or email on this page.   


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