Sequester

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 USAJobs.gov. 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.

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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.

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