WASHINGTON – In response to today’s memorandum from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Civilian Workforce,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:
“There are some good ideas and some very dangerous ideas in Mr. Mulvaney’s memorandum. One good idea takes a page from President Clinton’s ‘reinventing government’ initiative and asks agencies to take a hard look at the organizational chart to see whether there are too many layers of management. As representatives of front-line employees, AFGE members can tell you that excessive ratios of managers to workers on the front-lines creates operational inefficiency and takes resources away from the direct provision of services to taxpayers. The government does have too many managers and some of those positions should be converted to jobs that serve the American people.
“One terrible idea expressed throughout the memorandum is the idea that even more of the government’s work should be outsourced to costly and unaccountable contractors. The federal government already spends twice as much annually on service contractors as it does on its own workforce ($450+ billion on contractors in FY 2016 vs. $200 billion on civilian employees in FY 2016). Nobody knows precisely what these contractors do, how well they do it, who they’re hiring, or where they’re working. In contrast, the data on federal employees’ jobs, pay, productivity, demographics, and location are completely transparent and widely scrutinized, as is appropriate. Shifting even more government work to these profiteers who operate in the shadows is the opposite of government accountability or fiscal prudence.
“Another bad idea is the wanton defunding of the Environmental Protection Agency’s workforce. Americans want and deserve clean air and clean water. Public health has a price, and if corporations and local governments want to be able to pollute at will and with impunity, then the responsibility of the federal government is to protect its citizens from these bad actors. The scientists at EPA and those who enforce the laws meant to protect and promote public health must not be laid off en masse.
“Reducing the federal workforce through attrition may seem like a relatively humane approach, but its operational effect can be devastating. Federal agencies must be permitted to make decisions about sourcing and hiring that promote the most efficient means of carrying out their mission as dictated by law and policy. That means having the ability to replace staff as they retire or leave federal employment for other reasons. The idea that all or most federal jobs are somehow unnecessary or redundant, or should be producing a profit for politically well-connected contractors has no place in any serious plan for government efficiency.”