Congress Takes another Swipe at Federal Workers as Senator Proposes Workforce Cap and Reduction Bill


Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) last week introduced S. 3747, the 2010 Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act, a bill that seeks to reduce costs by diminishing the size of the federal workforce.

The bill would first require federal agencies to report their workforce levels as of February 16, 2009 to the Office of Management and Budget. If their current staff size exceeds that of February 2009 levels, then they must reduce their workforce through attrition until it reaches that point.

Once this milestone is reached, agencies will be prohibited from hiring a new employee without offsetting it with the loss of another, effectively capping the federal workforce. Exempted from the proposed legislation are the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, in addition to the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and the White House.

“Placing an arbitrary cap on the federal workforce is just bad policy, plain and simple,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “Not only will it shortchange the American people on the vital services they receive from experienced federal workers every day, it will shift that work to contractors who have proven to be more expensive and operate with less transparency. This bill would cut services, raise costs, and force the American taxpayer to foot the bill.”

The Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act is just the latest in a number of recent attempts by some in Congress to degrade the federal workforce in size and compensation. In May, a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), but it never came up for a vote. Later that month, a measure proposed by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was voted down when she attempted to attach it to the annual Defense appropriations bill. That same week, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) wrote up their own proposal that would have frozen federal employee pay and performance awards. This was also defeated, but only by a thin margin of 53-45.

“Regardless of the obvious detrimental effects, certain members of Congress will stop at nothing to undermine the work federal workers do for the American people,” said Dougan. “These politically and ideologically driven schemes do absolutely nothing to serve the American public. We will continue to oppose these short-sighted anti-worker proposals as they are considered by Congress.