Trump Team Silent on Federal Employee Pay, Benefits–for Now

"Closeup of the White House facade and front lawn on a summer evening, in Washington DC. One of the rare moments when the sun is shining on the north side of the building. Picture taken from Pennsylvania Avenue."

President Trump’s initial budget request mentions no intended changes to federal benefits or workplace policies, but such proposals could be in a more thorough budget proposal to be released in May. The plan released late last week focuses mainly on funding levels for Cabinet department and several of the larger independent agencies, OPM not among them. It does not discus potential policy changes to major nationwide benefits programs, so in that context silence regarding federal retirement, health insurance and other issues would be expected. Numerous ideas to reduce the value of those benefits are in circulation, however, and may appear in the later budget and/or in legislation initiated on Capitol Hill. Trump’s budget document similarly was silent regarding a federal pay raise, but indications continue that the later budget will endorse a 1.9 percent raise. Nor was there specific mention of the potential for early retirement and buyout offers, but in advocating deep cuts in most agencies the initial plan did address–along with eliminating nearly two dozen relatively small agencies and separate units of Cabinet departments–administration officials have said they expect workforce reductions that could require RIFs. That in turn has raised expectations of incentives being offered to soften the impact, as well as expectations that the general hiring freeze will be continued, possibly with some terms changed, under a workforce plan that is to be released in late April. Even the more detailed budget to come also will be only a proposal that must go through the congressional budget process and that commonly produces decisions much different than the original plan.