How Did the Federal Hiring Freeze Impact Jobs? The Raw Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story.

No one was surprised when President Trump imposed a hiring freeze. Across many government agencies, the broad freeze brought hiring to a screeching halt. As the freeze was lifted and agency heads were given more authority to decide when and whether to fill jobs, most observers of government expected hiring to get back to normal. After all, most hiring freezes have been little more than political theater. Typically, they are intended to address a short-term money crunch or to send a message to administration supporters that the government is being reined in.

So – was this one political theater? Did it actually make a difference in the number of people on the government payroll? Or is everything back to normal (at least when it comes to hiring in the federal sector)? The most current publicly available data comes from OPM’s excellent Fedscope site. Fedscope provides historical data and current employment numbers through the end of September. If we look at raw numbers, the federal workforce has dropped from 2,093,868 employees at the end of December 2016 to 2,087,747 by December 2017, which breaks down to loss of 6,121 (0.29%) employees — not a huge impact for a two-million person workforce. But this is one of those cases in which the raw numbers can be misleading.

The top line numbers include both permanent and temporary employees. During the spring and summer, we typically see large increases in the number of temporary workers as a result of seasonal work. When we take the temporary jobs out of the mix and look only at the permanent workforce, we see a different picture.

The permanent workforce of 1,962,965 dropped by 15,917 to 1,947,048. That is a decrease of 0.81 percent — still not a huge drop, but significant. The picture changes even more when we stop looking at the total government numbers and start considering shifts on an agency-by-agency level, where we see some numbers that are predictable and some that are surprising.

For a look at those numbers for cabinet level and large agencies, read the rest of this post on The Spark – the ICF blog.







Giving Thanks for Federal Workers

Every year at this time I like to thank federal workers for all that they do. I spent 33 years working with great public servants who make a difference every day. I still appreciate all of the work federal employees do to serve the American people.

It is Thanksgiving week and before everyone heads out of the office to take a well-deserved holiday, I want to give thanks for our Federal workforce. Fed-bashing may be a popular sport in some places, but not here. I believe that majority of federal employees do a great job, care about their work, do more than is necessary, support their co-workers in times or need, and provide tremendous benefit to the American people. Let’s look at just a few things Federal employees do.

In the Department of the Treasury, they print our money and make our coins, while in Homeland Security the Secret Service protects against counterfeiting that could undermine our economy.

In the Department of Agriculture, they run crop insurance programs that protect our farmers from financial ruin.

In the Postal Service, they deliver mail to our doors. Our mail service is so reliable that many of us forget what a massive logistical undertaking it really is.

In the Department of State, they engage in and support diplomacy to ensure our interests are protected.

In the Department of Labor, they safeguard the interest of workers across America.

In the Department of Defense, they support our troops. Our armed forces could not carry out their mission without the support of 700,000 federal employees who provide supplies, rebuild ships, aircraft and other equipment, provide IT, financial management and personnel support, conduct intelligence work, and carry out countless other tasks that enable our men and women in uniform to carry out their missions.

In the Department of Commerce, they ensure that intellectual property rights are protected, through patents and trademarks.

In the Department of Health and Human Services, they protect against the spread of communicable diseases, through research and other programs conducted by federal workers or funded by the government.

They support our judicial and legislative branches of government, in addition to the work they do in the executive branch.

In Departments and Agencies, large and small, they protect our food supply, environment and medicines. Federal workers inspect our food, promote agriculture, provide assistance to farms, regulate pollutants, review new drugs to ensure their efficacy and safety, and manage over 200 million acres of National Forests and Wilderness Areas.

They preserve and operate our National Parks. The US has a spectacular array of National Parks, making available to the American people some of the most beautiful sites in the country.

They ensure we can travel safely by air, rail and highways. They forecast the weather and help us understand when dangerous storms can put us at risk, manage fisheries, explore outer space, and conduct groundbreaking medical and scientific research.

They respond to natural and man-made disasters, protect our borders, promote legitimate commerce and protect American businesses and consumer from counterfeit goods and currency.

They run the Social Security program, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans programs, along with many more that are too numerous to list in one blog post.

I don’t think we take time to say thank you often enough. Maybe that is because federal workers serve as a proxy for the arguments over the size of government. Maybe it is because our society and public discourse have become so polarized. The truth is that most of what people criticize about government is not the fault of individual federal workers. More often than not, it is caused by policies devised by the political leadership. Career employees are there to carry out those policies. Whether we think our Federal government is too big, too small or just right, we can respect federal workers for what they do for us every day and say thank you.

So this Thanksgiving week – thank you federal employees. Thank you for you loyalty, your dedication, your hard work, and the difference you make in America. I appreciate it – and you – very much.