Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

Blog archive

Advice: Hire more feds to shrink the deficit

Shrinking the size of the federal workforce doesn’t seem like it would actually do much to lessen the nation’s budget problems, but could hiring more feds present a potential solution to the government's money woes?

John Gravois, an editor at Washington Monthly, thinks so. In a lengthy article published in this month's issue, he argues that a targeted increase in federal staffing – as opposed to the workforce cuts called for by GOP members of Congress – would improve government and effectively cap spending.
 
Republicans have introduced legislative proposals to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent or 15 percent as a way to drive down the deficit, but here’s the catch Gravois points out: the government would still have to provide mandated services, regardless of the number of employees it had to carry them out. And, as in the past, the burdensome workload might spur agencies to hire contractors – ultimately driving up overhead costs.

Arguments about the optimal size of the federal workforce, as we've reported in recent stories, have been going on among lawmakers, labor unions and employees themselves. While some suggest the workforce is growing at an out-of-control pace, the president's 2012 budget estimates a workforce of 2.1 million, roughly the same level as proposed last year and a modest increase over 2010 actual levels. Overall, the federal workforce has shrunk compared to the size of the U.S. population.

Gravois also argues that if Congress and the administration agreed “to lift some of the procedural requirements and redundant reporting demands that are the bane of the average civil servant’s life, it might be possible to fulfill their mission as well or better with fewer people.”

Although he states that reforms like this are unlikely, lawmakers did pass legislation last year -- the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act -- to reduce duplicate government programs.

A Government Accountability Office report released March 1 drove home the importance of implementing the updated law; it identified 34 areas of potential duplication and fragmentation, and 47 other areas where savings may be gotten or revenues increased.

Tell me what you think about Gravois' idea in the comments section below. Can the government do its job better (and cheaper) with more feds?

 

Posted by Alyah Khan on Mar 02, 2011 at 12:20 PM


Featured

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

  • Comment
    Blue Signage and logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    Doing digital differently at VA

    The Department of Veterans Affairs CIO explains why digital transformation is not optional.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.