March 31, 2003
Diane Witiak
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Strongly Opposes Expanded Downsizing Authority

(Washington, D.C.)—“Given the current Administration’s strong and unmistakable antagonism towards federal employees and the important work they perform, it should come as no surprise that AFGE strongly opposes any measure that would allow it expanded authority to pursue its controversial agenda,” Mark Roth, General Counsel for the AFGE, will state in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee. The hearing will take place on Thursday, April 3, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

“The federal workforce has been arbitrarily hacked and whacked by hundreds of thousands of employees since 1993,” Roth will emphasize. “The result of this indiscriminate downsizing is a self-inflicted ‘human capital crisis,’ with agencies experiencing severe shortages of federal employees in occupational category after category. It is unclear why expanding the executive branch’s downsizing authority in a way that is specifically designed to avoid careful consideration of its proposals, would somehow result in more thoughtful human capital planning.”

Roth will point out that "it is ironic that an expansion of authority to downsize federal agencies and functions should be the subject of renewed interest at a time when one party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House, and it is no longer possible to contend that the dreaded `gridlock of partisanship' prevents fair consideration of truly meritorious downsizing measures.

"If the merits of their downsizing proposals are so self-evident, why," Roth will ask, "need they be placed on an accelerated fast-track that guarantees them precious floor time regardless of their content? Why must debate on downsizing proposals be limited through onerous time constraints? And why can the downsizing proposals not be amended?" Anywhere from 250 to 270 programs and agencies were abolished during the previous Administration, using the traditional legislative process.

“AFGE stands ready to work with the Committee on a variety of measures that would result in savings for taxpayers and innovations for all Americans who depend on the federal government for important services,” Roth will conclude. “Those measures include the reestablishment of labor-management partnerships, improved administration of service contracts, imposition of cost accounting standards on Federal Employees Health Benefits Program carriers, comprehensive reform of corporate welfare-style privatization, and abolition of wasteful privatization quotas that discourage the consideration of consolidations and transfers sought by supporters of the expanded downsizing authority.”

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