Trump Budget Seeks Cuts in Most Federal Agencies

fedweek.com workforce changes taking shape under trump admin

A budget proposal from the White House seeks to cut spending in most agencies apart from DoD, in the fiscal year starting in October, although it does not project how many federal jobs that would put in jeopardy.

The “skinny” proposal is a much slimmed-down version of the annual document that kicks off the congressional budget process, describing plans for only the 18 largest agencies and only in brief outline form even for them.

However, it does reflect the earlier-announced intention to increase defense spending by around 10 percent, with offsetting cuts in domestic agencies.

As it turned out, DHS also would be in for an increase, of 7 percent, with additional funds for immigration enforcement (including a border wall and about 30 attorneys tasked with buying up land along the border, immigration judges and detention facilities, ICE and the Border Patrol).

The VA would see a 6 percent increase, with $4.6 billion of that going toward patient access and timeliness of medical services.

The biggest cuts would be at the EPA, down 31 percent, State, 29, and Agriculture and Labor, 21 percent each.

It calls for the outright elimination of 19 agencies including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and federal funding for “geographic programs” such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Chesapeake Bay.

However, given the nature of the proposed increases and decreases—much of the reduction at State would be from foreign aid, for example, and much of the growth at DoD would go toward purchasing military equipment and supplies—changes in employment won’t necessarily be on the same scale as changes in baseline funding.

Unlike the traditional more thorough budgets, the document does not include tables of projected federal employment, although it does reflect earlier reports that EPA in particular would cut 3,200 jobs, a reduction of 20 percent.

However, OMB director Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference that he expects job cuts elsewhere, as well, although he didn’t say on what scale — and he did raise the prospect of agencies needing to conduct RIFs .

Nor does the budget mention federal personnel policies, such as whether agencies will be encouraged to use early-outs and buyouts , or whether the administration will advocate for cuts in benefits such as health insurance and retirement.

It also is silent regarding a 2018 federal employee raise, but there has been no change in indications that it would provide for a 1.9 percent increase. A more detailed budget document is to be released in May, and in the meantime Capitol Hill budget leaders will start drafting plans of their own.

Budget plans commonly are much changed between the start and finish of the budget process, and there is substantial opposition to many of the proposals.