Oversight

Senators seek GAO probe of hiring-freeze effects

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Two senators are urging Congress's investigative arm to probe the adverse impacts of President Donald Trump's hiring freeze.

As the 90-day hiring freeze approaches its expiration, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) asked the Government Accountability Office to nail down the exact effects of the freeze.

The Trump administration has repeatedly stated its goals to reduce the size of government and to make it run more cost-effectively.  The White House instituted the hiring freeze Jan. 23 under similar auspices.

However, a 1982 GAO report reviewing the freezes introduced under the Carter and Reagan administrations reported that freezes actually achieved the opposite effect.

"While we applaud efforts to streamline government, ensure efficient operations and encourage good stewardship of taxpayer dollars, we are extremely concerned about the potential for increased government spending and waste under this freeze," the senators wrote. "Across the board cuts and a shrinking of the total federal workforce are not the answer to making the federal government more efficient or effective."

In their letter, the senators specifically raised concerns that the freeze may have led agencies to employ more expensive contractors to deal with staffing shortages, as GAO found to have occurred previously, despite past orders' prohibitions from doing so.

They also raised concerns that the freeze will not reduce costs or the size of the federal government, that it could disrupt federal programs and customer service needs and could negatively affect the morale of the workforce.

"Past government-wide hiring freezes hindered agency missions, caused inefficient staff utilization and clerical shortages, and resulted in lost revenue and uncollected debts," they wrote.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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