The Donald Trump campaign listed a federal hiring freeze as a top priority, but a week after the election, many questions about it remain unanswered. A hiring freeze would most immediately affect those seeking to enter the government, but it also could affect current employees looking to change jobs. It also would burden many with taking over additional work from departed but not replaced colleagues—and at a time when some already will be filling the roles of political appointees who must leave. A document outlining a plan for the first 100 days of the administration calls for a hiring freeze “to reduce federal workforce through attrition (military, public safety, and public health).” Hiring freezes can be imposed by presidential directives without consent of Congress, and thus one could be put in place quickly; President Reagan ordered one starting on his inauguration day. Past proposals for hiring freezes that have passed the House in budget plans—but that haven’t reached enactment during the Obama administration—called for keeping a freeze in place long enough to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent—assumed to take several years—and to achieve certain savings targets. However, the Trump plan does not set such goals but rather is aimed at reducing “corruption and special interest collusion” in the government. Most hiring freezes—including the one Reagan imposed—last a matter of months, not years.
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