Fedweek

Updated: It could be some time until answers are available regarding the many questions left in the wake of the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan, with scheduled hearings this week in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee a starting point.

For employees, the overriding question of course is how many jobs—and which—could be lost. Administration officials have said that job-cutting may result but is not an explicit goal; federal unions believe the loss could be substantial and by design. For the meantime, several agencies, or subcomponents, have sent emails to employees essentially telling them to keep their focus on their work and not to assume the worst.

The second-most common question among employees is when changes could happen. The plan generally does not specify expected implementation dates, which in large part turn on another unresolved issue: which provisions could be carried out by executive orders or other administrative actions, versus those that would require changes in law.

Administrative actions can be taken much faster—although the results could be just as easily reversed by a latter administration—while getting legislation through Congress is always a more difficult and longer task and opposition already has coalesced against some of the ideas. In some cases the plan states that specifics will be included in next year’s budget proposal, effectively pushing off any action for at least a year.

Also uncertain is whether administrative actions would run up against language in spending bills now advancing in Congress restricting changes that would require reprogramming of operating funds—as many would—even if changes in underlying law would not be needed.