Coburn continues to question agency job listings

Sen. Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo in February urging agencies to hire cautiously because of sequestration. Yet job postings continue to go online, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) questions whether they're all essential.

Coburn, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote a letter March 5 to OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, asking why 606 job posts were uploaded to Choosing to forgo a single hire could erase the need to furlough dozens of employees, he argued.

"According to OMB, the average annual salary for a government employee is around $76,000," Coburn wrote. "This means that the average new hire equates to a one week furlough for 52 current government employees."

Coburn pointed to Food and Drug Administration listings for a social media management service to streamline multiple social media platforms. The Agriculture Department wants to hire a librarian at a salary ranging from $74,872 to $97,333, and the Air Force seeks a director of history and museums policies and programs at a salary of between $143,600 and $165,300 per year.

"While the Air Force may need leadership for its museums and history programs, and the USDA may need to keep its literature in order, those needs should take a backseat to the dire threat to public health and safety that some have claimed will result from sequestration," Coburn wrote.

The USDA, he suggested, could offset one week of furloughs for as many as 104 and 156 food inspectors by canceling the job offering.

This is the seventh letter Coburn has sent to the administration regarding sequester-driven belt-tightening, and the second to OMB regarding hiring. Coburn wrote to Zients Feb. 25 about the issue of hiring for jobs that are less necessary in a time of sequestration.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 8, 2013

Coburn needs to get a life. When he gets through breathing his own exhaust he might think about this country's future. Hopefully he won't be flying home with cancer in an understaffed air traffic radar sector. Then there is the uninspected meat.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013

Hiring freezes are a quick way to cut costs but have terrible long term costs. These costs don't show up until 10 or 15 years later. I have experienced a couple of cycles of this already. You end up without people at the right experience level when you need them to manage projects and teams. A far better solution would be to allow hiring one entry level for every two senior people that leave or retire. My SES level management recognize the problem and have promised to do this in the current downturn, but they may have a total freeze imposed on them from above.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 earth

One presumes that if a position exists within the government, it exists because there is a need for someone to do the work. But it seems the one part of the government that can’t get its work done is the part he works in, congress. Continuing resolutions, no budgets and no willingness to forgo vacation periods until the job is done. I wonder how many furloughs could be canceled by his position going unfilled. Is he willing to forgo the pay for the days he isn’t in session? Would he be willing to forgo his pay until a budget is passed that puts the American Worker above shinny objects like his obliviously pampered hair? Maybe he should resign and let his pay go to people that get the job done in these United States. I am sure with fewer people like him in congress the system could be stabilized and brought back into effective order.

To paraphrase Mark Twain. No one’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is secure while congress is in session.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 Jason S.

One more thing, how many of these announcements are for current permanent employees only? This would have a net impact of zero unless the employee is hired into a more senior grade and then the difference is between old and new salary. Why are our leaders penny wise and dollar dumb?

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 Jason S.

Apparently the senator is not familiar with the protracted hiring process for Federal jobs. By the time any of the current postings are filled there will be a budget.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group