What the GOP platform means to feds
- By Camille Tuutti
- Aug 29, 2012
The newly released Republican Party platform touts a vision of a reformed, less “bloated” government, but what it mainly means for federal employees is possible layoffs, lower pay and reduced benefits.
The document, which was unveiled Aug. 28, claims to create “a stronger and freer America,” according to the preamble. Its overall goal is to reform, restructure and rethink the government by taking action beyond merely downsizing government and “having a smaller version of the same failed systems,” the platform states.
“Government reform requires constant vigilance and effort because government by its nature tends to expand in both size and scope," according to the framework. “Our goal is not just less spending in Washington but something far more important for the future of our nation: protecting the constitutional rights of citizens, sustainable prosperity, and strengthening the American family.”
To realize that vision and overhaul the public sector, the Republican Party is proposing the following approaches:
Shrink the workforce: Reduce the federal workforce by at least 10 percent through attrition. Federal pay should also be slashed by at least 10 percent; the GOP argues, and pay scales and benefits should be adjusted to match those in the commercial sector.
Revamp the civil service system: The 130-year old civil service system needs a makeover to “be sufficiently flexible to acknowledge and reward those who dare to innovate, reduce overhead, optimize processes, and expedite paperwork,” the plan states.
Crack down on late-paying feds: Take a tougher stance on federal employees who are late on their taxes and repaying their student loans. A Republican administration also “will name to public office no one who has failed to meet their financial obligations to the government and fellow taxpayers.”
The doctrine to cut the federal workforce should come as no surprise to those familiar with vice presidential hopeful Sen. Paul Ryan’s Plan to Prosperity. Released in March 2012, the framework proposed tacking another three years to the ongoing federal pay freeze and reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent.
Ryan’s budget proposal also stated the government has hired 147,000 new workers since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The GOP platform cites the same kind of numbers, saying the civil service has grown “by at least 140,000 workers, while the number making at least $150,000 has doubled.”
“At a time when the national debt has increased to over $15.9 trillion under the current administration, this is grossly irresponsible,” the platform states. “The American people work too hard and too long to support a bloated government.”
Official figures from the Office of Management and Budget, however, show the rise at only 123,000, or 6.2 percent, according to a CNN analysis.
Colleen Kelley, national president at the National Treasury Employees Union, was quick to point out the essential role federal employees play, and expressed disappointment in the proposal to reduce the number of those positions.
“Cutting in the federal workforce would undermine the services that the American people depend on and want,” she said in an Aug. 28 statement. “From protecting our borders to safeguarding our nuclear plants to protecting our agriculture, these services are vital to our nation. A 10 percent across-the-board cut would mean that these vital services that the American people want would not be delivered.”
Prior to the release of the platform, J. David Cox Sr., national president at the American Federation of Government Employees, stressed how the GOP approach would negatively affect those who work in health care, food inspection and safety, and border protection.
“Without proper staffing and funding, these government services would simply cease to exist, leaving millions of Americans high and dry,” Cox said Aug. 27. “It’s hard for me to imagine a country that would turn its back on its citizens, but that’s exactly what this GOP platform proposes to do.”
Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.