Federal Hiring Freeze: What They Are Saying

President Trump’s decision to freeze federal hiring has generated quite a buzz among the federal community. Here is a summary of what is being said about it.

President Trump announced a hiring freeze for the federal government as one of his first official acts as president.

The move has generated quite a buzz in the federal community. Most public comments about the hiring freeze appear to be critical, although there is some support for the decision.

Even among some who are generally more favorable to the idea, there is still concern that there might be a better approach.

For example, Chris Edwards, Cato Institute tax policy director and editor of DownsizingGovernment.org, said last fall when Trump first pitched the idea of a hiring freeze that it would be better to eliminate federal programs instead.

“If incoming president Donald Trump wants to reduce the size of the federal workforce, what he really should do is decide which programs he wants to cut or eliminate,” said Edwards.

Opposition to the hiring freeze began in earnest after Trump’s election when it became more likely that there might indeed be a freeze on federal employment. A group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Trump earlier this month asking him to reconsider his position on the hiring freeze.

At the same time, agencies began ramping up their efforts to hire more federal workers in anticipation of the possible freeze. That got the attention of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Committee’s chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), said he was concerned that the rash hiring might by agencies might mean they were not screening for the “most qualified” applicants.

The efforts to hire more federal employees was perhaps a prescient move since the Trump administration did announce a hiring freeze this week, and the memorandum issued noted that it did not revoke any appointment made to Federal service prior to January 22, 2017.

Below is a compilation of some of the comments made by lawmakers and others in the federal community both in favor of and in opposition to Trump’s announcement of a hiring freeze.

NTEU president Tony Reardon

A hiring freeze will be harmful and counterproductive, increasing backlogs, decreasing service quality and causing more frustration for Americans seeking help from their government. Our government depends upon highly-trained and experienced federal workers being able to carry on with their important work. This puts up a substantial roadblock for agencies.

NARFE president Richard G. Thissen

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.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)

Today President Trump took a strong step forward in reining in the size of the federal government by instituting a hiring freeze. This will allow for a full assessment of thousands of open positions that draw funding but are often never filled. As we look for solutions to bring some fiscal sanity back to Washington, a federal hiring freeze will help us accomplish that goal.

Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org

The symbolism of the freeze is important. Trump wants to show that there is a ‘new sheriff in town’ who wants to handle the federal workforce differently.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. 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.