Trump Issues Executive Order to Impose Federal Hiring Freeze

President Trump has issued an executive order to freeze federal hiring in an effort to make good on one of his campaign promises to reduce the size of the federal workforce.

Making good one one of his campaign promises, President Trump issued an executive order today to impose a hiring freeze on the federal workforce.

The White House released a copy of the memorandum Monday night (below) with details about the hiring freeze. author Michael Wald noted that it is a first step as part of a long term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a press conference Monday afternoon that the hiring freeze “counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years; in particular, it prevents filling vacant positions and creating new positions except when necessary to meet national or public security responsibilities. It does not apply to military personnel, and it ensures that the American taxpayers get effective and efficient government.”

In his Contract with the American Voter, Trump’s action plan for his first 100 days in office, one of the measures was to enact a hiring freeze to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition.

Some of the other items from Trump’s campaign pledge included proposing a Constitutional amendment to enact term limits for Members of Congress and imposing a requirement that for every new federal regulation issued by agencies, two must be eliminated.

As I wrote in a recent article, there are a number of other proposals floating around about what the Trump administration may or may not do that would impact the federal workforce. Among them include:

  • Making it easier to fire federal workers
  • Limiting bonuses
  • Reforming pension plans, most likely for new federal employees
  • Reducing or eliminating the use of official time
  • Shrinking the overall size of the federal workforce, something we are now seeing begin to take shape via this new executive order

For details, see Trump Administration Proposing Drastic Cuts to Federal Workforce.

We will continue to keep our users updated as new proposals and changes that may affect them continue to unfold.

January 23, 2017

Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze


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.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.