Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

Blog archive

Are bills targeting the federal workforce destined to fail?

Last week, freshman Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) added his name to the list of lawmakers who want to reduce the size of the federal workforce as a way to save money.

Marino introduced his very first bill, the Federal Hiring Freeze Act of 2011, May 5. But will this legislation -- or any of several other bills proposing freezes on hiring or salaries -- ever get anywhere?

The bill would freeze most federal hiring until the director of the Office of Management and Budget “determines that a federal budget deficit no longer exists.”

Marino said the bill calls for a “responsible” freeze on the federal workforce and allows for “common-sense exceptions” during times of war or for law enforcement and national security concerns.

The legislation would affect all federal agencies except for the Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission and federal law enforcement positions. It would pertain to any kind of hiring except for the short-term reassignment of personnel within the same agency, seasonal hiring or transitional positions involving a new presidential administration.

When introducing the bill, Marino cited the nation’s $14 trillion debt and the estimated $1.6 trillion budget deficit. “We cannot allow the federal government to grow at record levels while we ask our business owners and families to be more frugal and to get by with a lot less,” he said.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government currently employs 2.8 million people.

The majority of feds know all too well that Marino is not the first lawmaker in recent months to target federal hiring as a way to bring down the deficit.

In February, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) reintroduced the Federal Workforce Reduction Act, which would place a hiring freeze on all federal agencies except the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments.

Lummis’ bill, which would take effect in fiscal 2012, would require the government to hire only one replacement for every two federal employees who retire or leave the government. (Federal News Radio has compiled a list of active bills that would affect feds here.)

Although there are multiple bills floating around Congress that would affect the workforce, none seem to be making much headway. So, why do lawmakers keep targeting the workforce in their legislation? Are these bills just for show? Is shrinking the size of the federal workforce really a feasible solution to the government’s money troubles?

Posted by Alyah Khan on May 9, 2011 at 8:32 AM

Reader comments

Tue, May 24, 2011 Theresa KY

All bills should effect all government employees including Congress. There should be no line to divide the so-called elite from the average worker. We are have the same issues like mortgages, car payments, medical expenses, basic utilities, and food. If the bills they passed affected them too then they would be more fair and thoughtful when targeting government workers. First no cost of living increase. Our you kidding? The price of food, goods, gas, and utilities continues to rise! Every time I have to go to a store I spend more or have to get less. Next they are going contribute less to our retirement and make us pay more into our retirement benefits? So our check gets smaller. We will have to work till we are in our 80's. Then they are going to make us pay taxes on our health insurance premiums while the cost of health insurance goes up every year? So we will be able to go to a doctor, get a discounted price basically, and then we can't afford to pay the remainder of the bill that the insurance doesn't pay for! Our Thrifts Savings plan contribution is being threatened and they are talking about cutting any matching contributions? So after we've worked for 50 years and are ready to retire, we will have to pray that whatever we DO get will help cover all of our expenses in our old age. Then we won't be able to go anywhere because we won't have any extra money that most get from their Thrift Savings. They are wanting to downsize our work force or cause a RIF? Its not looking good for IRS employees in the CIRSC. With. E-File on the rise and becoming more mandatory the workforce will be dramatically hit soon there. Seasonal employees periods of employment are already being shortened and layoffs are already possibly in the works for the future of this service center. What are we going to do then? They are cutting everything and then fire some of us while still outsourcing our work! Yes! Yes they are outsourcing work. Seasonal employees are being layed off and are going to hired contractors and getting hired. They are getting the same pay rate and getting offered benefits when they couldn't get them at the IRS. If this blatant disregard for Federal workers doesn't stop eventually they might even outsource our taxes overseas. Then where we will the protection of all American citizens be? We, as federal employees, take an oath to protect vital information, we uphold our jobs with integrity, and we go above and beyond in our daily duties. So this is how we get treated. Truly unfair!

Wed, May 18, 2011 Linda Jones

Stop paying the security of past preseidents and their wives. Lots of wasted money here. Let them pay for their own security. Let Congressmen serve more than one term to be able to get benefits. Let Congress as well as President have to have the same health plans and retirement that we civil servants live under. Why should there be a double standard; they are civil servants also or are supposed to be

Fri, May 13, 2011 Interested Party

Any reasonable discussion of workforce reduction needs to start with a determination of what services the taxpayers wish to discontinue. Once you understand what priority services you need and which you can cut, then you can have a reasonable discussion about where you can find efficiencies and where you can cut.

Wed, May 11, 2011 texas

I agree with you susie , in the same boat, how CAN we help the economy when we are struggling too and then they want to cut our pay, will have to sell my house, how is that going to help the economy

Wed, May 11, 2011 Ann PA

How about an across the federal government reduction of 5% in EVERBODY'S Salary...including congress, President, etc. And why shouldn't congress and senate have to subscribe and pay for Health and Pension plans from the same one we employees have to select from. No lifetime pensions, can you see those are piling up. You work on day as congressman and get pension for life! I wish...

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