A report on a budget blueprint for fiscal 2018 passed last week by the House Budget Committee reveals that the plan contains a provision not mentioned in an earlier less detailed summary: an assumption of a 10 percent cut in the federal workforce through a partial hiring freeze.
Says the report: “The budget assumes discretionary savings through a 10-percent reduction in certain agencies of the federal civilian workforce through attrition. Under the assumed strategy, the administration would be permitted to hire one employee for every three who leave government service. National security positions would be exempt.”
Prior House budget plans have included similar language, which would translate into a reduction of some 200,000 positions, through a modified hiring freeze over a period of four or five years. That never has been translated into law, however.
The budget “resolution” (H. Con. Res. 71) is ready for a vote by the full House but it is uncertain when, or even if, that will happen.
The Trump administration imposed a general hiring freeze almost immediately on taking office, leaving exceptions mainly on security and safety grounds. That freeze was repealed after several months by an OMB memo ordering agencies to produce plans for reducing and restructuring their workforces; that memo did not specify a percentage job reduction goal, though.
Those plans are due to be submitted in September for inclusion in the White House’s budget proposal in early 2018 for fiscal 2019. Meanwhile some agencies are restricting their hiring for headquarters and administrative positions in anticipation of lower future employment levels.