As expected, President Trump has issued a Presidential Memorandum affecting the hiring of Federal civilian employees.
The memo states:
“No vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances. This order does not include or apply to military personnel. The head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”
Reaction of NARFE to Hiring Freeze
In response to the order, Richard Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), argues that a federal hiring freeze will be expensive to the American people and ultimately do more harm than good.
“A federal hiring freeze may be a good talking point, but it is a bad policy that relies on an inaccurate assumption. It implies the federal workforce is growing, when, in reality, it has shrunk by nearly 10 percent since 1967. More importantly, it would undermine the efficiency of government operations by creating hiring backlogs and inadequate staffing levels, and it is unlikely to save any money.”
Comptroller General Report on Federal Hiring Freezes
In 1982, the General Accounting Office issued a report documenting four freezes that had occurred between 1977 and 1981 during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
The report found that:
“Government-wide hiring freezes have not been an effective means of controlling Federal employment. While the Government-wide hiring freezes reviewed by the GAO provided an illusion of control on Federal employment. and spending, they had little effect on Federal employment levels, and it is not known whether they saved money. Because they ignored individual agencies’ missions, workload, and staffing requirements, these freezes disrupted agency operations, and in some cases, increased costs to the Government.”
90 Days for New Plan to Be Announced
The new Trump hiring freeze is meant to be a temporary solution while the new administration creates a longer-range plan. According to the memo:
“Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Director of OPM, shall recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition.”
The hiring freeze does not revoke any appointment to Federal service made prior to January 22, 2017.
A copy of the White House memo announcing the federal hiring freeze is included below.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 23, 2017
Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Hiring Freeze
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch. As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances. This order does not include or apply to military personnel. The head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities. In addition, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may grant exemptions from this freeze where those exemptions are otherwise necessary.
Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Director of OPM, shall recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition. This order shall expire upon implementation of the OMB plan.
Contracting outside the Government to circumvent the intent of this memorandum shall not be permitted.
This hiring freeze applies to all executive departments and agencies regardless of the sources of their operational and programmatic funding, excepting military personnel.
In carrying out this memorandum, I ask that you seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services. Accordingly, this memorandum does not prohibit making reallocations to meet the highest priority needs and to ensure that essential services are not interrupted and national security is not affected.
This memorandum does not limit the nomination and appointment of officials to positions requiring Presidential appointment or Senate confirmation, the appointment of officials to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service or to Schedule C positions in the Excepted Service, or the appointment of any other officials who serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. Moreover, it does not limit the hiring of personnel where such a limit would conflict with applicable law. This memorandum does not revoke any appointment to Federal service made prior to January 22, 2017.
This memorandum does not abrogate any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of this memorandum.
DONALD J. TRUMP