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White House Lifts Hiring Freeze, Sets Guidelines for Government Restructuring

The Trump administration lifted the federal hiring freeze and released its “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce” which includes the expectation of job cuts.

In a press briefing, OMB director Mick Mulvaney said that lifting the freeze “does not mean – and I’ve made this very clear to all of the agency heads, the deputy chiefs, et cetera, for the last couple of days – that does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly.”

The State Department announced last Thursday that Secretary Rex Tillerson decided to extend its hiring freeze until it could develop a plan for restructuring. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is also refusing to hire until May 1st at the earliest.

Both of these agencies said it necessary to continue their freeze on hiring after the OMB memo called for agencies to draft both short-term and long-term plans to reduce their workforces and reshape their organizational structures.

This plan is the result of an executive order calling for a government reorganization to eliminate and merge agency duties, departments, and in some cases, entire agencies. The plan follows the President’s preliminary budget blueprint and anticipates budget cuts and job cuts at agencies.

Released as an OMB memo, the plan instructs agencies to “begin taking immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels” included in that preliminary budget. And in September agencies are to submit a plan “that includes long-term workforce reductions” as part of their budget requests to OMB for the FY 2019 budget proposal that is expected early next year, yet a preliminary version is due out by June 30.

According to a Federal News Radio survey of nearly 750 respondents, a third of federal employees said they support President Trump’s concept of restructuring, even if they’re skeptical of OMB’s specific approach.

Specifically, just more than 17 percent of federal employees said they support both reorganization in general and OMB’s plan to do so, said Federal News Radio.

“This is long overdue,” one respondent said. “We have 60 employees and could get our work done with 30 to 35 with no problem.”

OMB also laid out a series of guidelines for determining how to eliminate positions in the long term:

  • Use data-driven workforce planning: Agencies should examine “various data sources” to determine “how many people are required to perform tasks” rather than simply going off the previous year’s numbers.
  • Determine total personnel cost: In searching for efficiencies, OMB said simply looking at staffing levels “may not present the full picture.” They should consider consolidating higher-grade positions and downgrading management-level positions.
  • Revise organizational design: Agencies should ensure they have the “fewest amount of management layers needed to provide for appropriate risk management, oversight and accountability.”
  • Streamline policy creation: OMB suggested agencies look at potential redundancies at the component or regional levels.
  • Review positions as they become vacant: Agencies should verify that each job that comes open “reflects current mission needs.”
  • Ensure positions are still relevant: OMB said some jobs may have become obsolete because of technology, especially in “fields undergoing rapid transformation” such as database administration, invoice processing and financial management.

 

Posted in General News

Tags: federal hiring freeze, General Schedule employees, civil service reform

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