House GOP bill would slash federal workforce by 10 percent
Bill introduced a week after House hearing on "rightsizing" the federal workforce
Editor's note: This story has been modified to clarify that the target date is fiscal 2015.
House Republicans have introduced yet another bill to slash what they call the "explosive growth" of the federal workforce. This latest bill would cut 10 percent of the government's employees by the start of fiscal 2015.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the Reducing the Size of the Federal Government Through Attrition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2114) on June 6.
The bill would allow for one federal employee to be hired to replace every three who retire or leave their jobs.
“We need to take action now,” Issa said. “Office of Personnel Management projections suggest approximately 400,000 federal employees are currently eligible for retirement. As those workers leave, we cannot let this opportunity to save taxpayer money pass.”
Include contractors in federal workforce debates, lawmakers urged
Issa’s Federal Workforce Subcommittee held a hearing May 26 to examine the current number of federal employees.
At the hearing, two other Republican lawmakers -- Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Thomas Marino of Pennsylvania -- testified about recent bills they have introduced that would also shrink the size of the federal workforce through attrition.
Federal employee advocates argued at that hearing that the debate over the right size for the workforce must include contractors, whose number and salary levels aren't set by Congress.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement that if Issa’s bill passed it would ultimately “shift work to more costly, less effective private contractors” and undermine the government’s ability to deliver important services.
“Rather than yet another attack on the federal workforce, Congress must consider real opportunities to improve efficiencies, such as reforming the federal contracting process,” Kelley said in the statement. “By ensuring federal employees are able to compete for work with contractors on an even playing field, the federal government will be better able to provide high-quality services and save taxpayer dollars.”
The legislation does include a provision intended to limit an increase in contracts if it is enacted, but there is an exemption for “cases in which a cost comparison demonstrates that such contracts would be to the financial advantage of the government,” according to the legislative text.
Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.