OMB's Mick Mulvaney

White House Lifts Hiring Freeze, Sets Job Cut Expectations

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.”

“What we’re doing is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office, and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan. And what that means specifically is that, consistent with the President’s priorities in the budget, certain agencies will end up hiring more people. Other agencies will end up paying their FTEs even greater than they would have had during the hiring freeze,” Mulvaney said.

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.

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.


Image: "Mick Mulvaney" by Gage Skidmore. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Posted in General News

Tags: OMB, budget cuts, hiring freeze


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