President Trump’s federal hiring freeze memo ordered OPM and OMB to present a long-range federal workforce reduction plan; however there appears to be little chance of that being finished before the administration’s first budget proposal to be made in the upcoming weeks. OMB director Mick Mulvaney was confirmed only two weeks ago and there still isn’t even a nominee for OPM director. The administration’s budget plan could provide at least an outline of the intent, however. As a member of Congress, Mulvaney sponsored legislation to impose a federal hiring freeze–with exceptions similar to those allowed under the Trump freeze–while allowing the filling of one of every three vacancies elsewhere. That plan also would have barred agencies from adding contractors to take up the slack, a feature also in the current freeze. Those steps would have remained in place until the workforce was reduced by 10 percent, after which employment would have been capped at that level. Many employees meanwhile are hoping that either in the budget or in the workforce plan the administration will back more generous use of agency buyout and early retirement authority as a way to boost turnover and help cut jobs without having to resort to RIFs. The last time there was a major effort to reduce federal jobs, during the Clinton administration, those incentives were used widely. Mulvaney’s earlier legislation did not call for using them, however, and the White House has given no indications along those lines.
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