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Federal Government Layoffs in the Works

Monday August 21st, 2017   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:31am PDT   •  

47288952 - Payday! hands of bureaucrats or politicians For a very long time, the employees of the U.S. government have had it really good. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the combination of regular wages with extremely generous benefits puts the total compensation of the federal government employees well ahead of their peers in the private sector.

But that’s not all. Downsizing the Federal Government’s Chris Edwards recently described another perk of federal government employment:

There is another important benefit of federal employment: extremely high job security. Federal workers are supported by strong civil service protections, and about one-third of them are represented by unions. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that the rate of “layoffs and discharges” in the federal workforce is just one-quarter of the rate in the private sector.

Federal workers are almost never fired. An investigation by Government Executive noted, “There is near-universal recognition that agencies have a problem getting rid of subpar employees.” Just 0.5 percent of federal civilian workers a year get fired for any reason, including poor performance and misconduct. That rate is just one-sixth of the private-sector firing rate. For the senior executive service in the government, the firing rate is just 0.1 percent. By contrast, about two percent of corporate CEOs are fired each year, which is a rate 20 times higher than in the senior executive service.

All in all, the federal government is a very well-compensated place to work. A final piece of evidence can be found by looking at quit rates, or the rates that workers voluntarily leave their jobs. BLS data show that the quit rate in the federal government is just one-quarter the quit rate in the private sector. Federal workers know that they have a lucrative combination of compensation and job security, and so they stay much longer than in other industries.

Recent initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government’s operations by eliminating waste appears set to change that costly status quo, where the ride on the federal gravy train to Easy Street may be set to come to an end for a significant number of the federal government’s civilian labor force. Government Executive‘s Eric Katz breaks the news:

Federal agency managers are privately telling members of the Trump administration they will soon lay off employees, according to Office of Personnel Management officials, and are seeking advice for how to do so in the most effective manner.

Agencies are “pretty certain” they will need to institute reductions in force as they aim to satisfy an executive order from President Trump and ensuing guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, said Leslie Pollack, deputy associate director of OPM’s HR Strategy and Evaluation Solutions, on WJLA’s “Government Matters” program. Those documents required executive branch agencies to reorganize themselves and, in the process, cut the size of their workforces. Pollack’s office, which provides human resources consulting to federal agencies, has assisted officials across government looking at “closing down or realigning functions.”

“They are coming to us specifically and saying ‘I’m pretty certain I need to run a reduction in force,’ and that is one area where OPM and our group in particular has some expertise in helping agencies…to take a look at their situation and actually execute according to the restructuring rules and all the policies and procedures that are in place,” Pollack said. “So we’re definitely getting those questions.”

The federal government’s agencies must submit their proposals to streamline and to reduce the cost of their operations by the end of the U.S. government’s current fiscal year on September 30, 2017. Their proposals will then likely be incorporated into President Trump’s budget proposal for the government’s 2019 fiscal year.

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August 2017