WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded the 131 House members who sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to lift the artificial cap on the civilian workforce.
Under the Defense Department’s co-called “Efficiency Initiative,” the number of civilian employees has been capped at 2010 levels, yet there has been no comparable cap on the contractor workforce. This has encouraged managers to use contractors instead of civilian employees, even though privatization is more costly and also violates the law.
The letter, initiated by Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York and endorsed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, asks Panetta to manage each group of workers – military, civilian, and contractors – from the total force perspective, so sourcing decisions are based on the law, cost, policy and risk instead of arbitrary constraints.
“The unique constraints that DoD has placed on the civilian workforce have raised concerns that managers could be prevented from using civilian employees even when they cost less or the work is sufficiently sensitive or important that it should be performed by civilian employees,” the lawmakers wrote.
Until the cap on the civilian workforce is lifted, DoD should cap spending on service contracts at fiscal 2010 levels, as mandated by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the lawmakers wrote.
“This ill-conceived cap has forced managers to cut tens of thousands of federal jobs, while the much larger and more expensive contractor workforce continues to grow unchecked,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “It’s long past time that we restore some balance and fairness to how the entire workforce is managed and treated. I hope Secretary Panetta takes immediate action to comply with these recommendations.”