Daily Dose: Could Your Agency Get The Job Done With 10 Percent Fewer Employees?

The GOP has made it official.

According to Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post, House Republicans have announced a plan to allow federal agencies to make just one new hire for every three employees who leave. The goal is to downsize the federal workforce by 10 percent in the next four years.

If passed, the legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget to track the size of the federal workforce on a quarterly basis and report to Congress in writing if the number of employees exceededs 90 percent of its current size in fiscal 2011. No agency would be permitted to fill job vacancies once the limit was exceeded.

House GOP unveils plan to cut federal workforce

Federal workers have seen hiring freezes, pay freezes and proposals to cut back on their pension benefits in recent months. Now they may have to figure out how to make due without one out of every ten coworkers.

Whether you see this as a necessary evil and the first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility or as misguided policy and a reckless attempt to score political points has been debated ad nauseum. But since it’s looking like this could well become a reality, it may be time to start thinking about how to make the most of the situation.

What ideas do you have for how your agency could deal with fewer workers? Are there ways that haven’t been thought of for getting by with a smaller cadre of employees? Basically, what do you think the effect on your agency is going to be if something like this passes?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great a story in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected].

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Just read that the Government Printing Office (GPO) is looking to cut their staff by 15% –

their asking Congress for the authority to offer employees buyouts. Their goal is to cut around 330 positions (of 2,200)

The GPO will offer employees $25,000 to voluntarily leave the agency – must be nice!! Most state & local gov’t folks just get the pink slip!!!

Kera Bartlett

When faced with arbitrary, across the board budget cuts, we at The Clearing often advise our clients to think through the MUDA concept. This Japanese methodology helps one identify resources allocated to things that do not address the needs of the mission or the team. MUDA can be found is nearly every organization, making it easier for managers to cut the non-value add activity and consolidate resources towards business and customer needs. For example, look at your inbox – how many of your emails are MUDA?

John Evans

This is nothing but political grandstanding, pandering to the uninformed. The proposal contains a gigantic loophole, which would allow the hiring of unaccountable contractors if a claim of “financial advantage ” is made. As we have seen time and time again, indiscriminate cuts to the Federal workforce simply result in an explosion of contracting, at enormous expense. Before long, total expenditures on governmental functions will skyrocket, as will waste caused by inexperienced and poorly trained contractors trying to jobs they are not adequately trained for nor experienced enough to perform efficiently. This is an idiotic proposal.

Christopher Whitaker

We actually tried the whole “let’s not hire anyone to replace the people that retired, and non-schedule the ones who stayed” thing in our office. The only thing we were successful at is producing backlog. State agencies in IL have been cutting to the bone for years – there’s nothing left to cut without cutting services.

Linda Mitchell

The Government has it backwards. Rather than arbitraily cutting employees, or just cutting the budget, what they need to do is a bottoms up review of the mission. CUT THE WORK! (Interestingly, under GPRA, the Government already claims to be doing this every year – allocating budget based on each agency’s mission. I guess that’s a big falacy.) Once the mission and the workloads are cut, the number of people and the budget will follow. The problem is that the government is not run like a business; they love to fill their time with datacalls and unfunded mandates. Managers won’t get rid of those senior employees who are “retired in place” or under-performers, because they fear retaliation lawsuits. Efficiency is solicited and then suggestions ignored. There are a lot of thiefdoms and kingdoms within and throughout government, especially when it comes to political appointees. But back to my original thought – cut the work, then align the workers and the money!

Alicia Mazzara

To Linda’s point, it makes sense that a decrease in workforce would also be paired with a change in agency mission. I don’t think agencies like being stuck with unfunded mandates (actually, I’d guess it’s really frustrating for employees), but the legislative branch sure seems to like them.

Rodney L. McCall

Hi Stephanie,

> The downsizing syndrome is what the business excutives believe solves the problem with not getting enough profit on their bottom line.

> A downsizing is not neccessarily based on good judement but the previous learning experience everyone received in their college and or business training. Everyone follows anothers direction if they see that it just happened to work for them. This is what is done it seems more in America then any other place.

> This if course is not sound judgement and it never has been. The problems that arise is that now the company or organization is short on people. Who does the work? The people. Where does the qualitygo of that company or organization. Ouch it goes down hill. One person cannot do the work of 4 people that are doing their job correctly. Just is not going to happen. Your work and the companies product will suffer.

> Part of the answer to this is that so many times the right hand (management) does not know what the left hand (middle management and workers) is doing.

> If upper management got more involved with what is actually going on and not listening to what someone telling them what they want to here. There is a good book that would certainly help some of these top managers to become better managers. Studs Terkel book on working. The owner and he would be called the President CEO of the company ran a very large machine shop in Chicago and he was on the floor a lot. One day one of the Lathe turners was machining a part and his area was very messy, dirty and the owner ask him to clean it up. The worker said he could not right now due to work so the owner cleaned it up for him.

> This is just showing that the owner knew what was involved and was willing to help. This part was very important to the owner to. How many of upper management know their product or would help out.


> Hope to hear back