How Big Should The Federal Workforce Be?

Home Forums Human Resources How Big Should The Federal Workforce Be?

This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Carol Davison 9 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #131448

    Daniel Crystal

    Found this article in the Washington Post, thought it was interesting:

    Do my fellow govies feel like we have enough federal employees to get the job done? I’m of the opinion that shrinking the number of feds on the payroll actually reduces federal expenditures any. After all, my group in CBP has four full time govies, one supervisor, six contractors, and two summer interns.

  • #131462

    Carol Davison

    Daniel is is difficult to determine how many workers are enough when one doens’t know the mission they are assigned to accomplish. I agree that replacing Feds with contractors is not more effective or efficient because Government employees do the same work for less money. Additionally they are the subject matter experts on programs under analysis and should perform it because they will be responsible for providing the service. I’ve seen the analysis and recommendaitons that some contractors provided, and am stupefied that management accepted it.

  • #131460

    Alicia Mazzara

    This is a complex question. I have definitely been on projects that were understaffed, and all the team members were overworked and overextended. On the flipside, I’ve also encountered lazy employees in the same organization that simply made getting work done harder for everyone else. So I don’t think it’s as simple as increasing or decreasing the number of employees. I also think it’s a slippery slope to downsize the workforce in exchange for increasing the number of contractors. Sometimes contractors are the right solution, but other times the people on the inside know the issues best and are better suited for the task.

  • #131458

    Lisa Coates

    Simply put…that would depend on the job at hand.

  • #131456

    Mark Hammer

    The crux of the matter is “the job”. What exactly IS “the job”. Those who bemoan the deficit, debt, tax burden, etc., tend to turn around and compare public sector X, in terms of size of workforce relative to the population size, and compare ratios.

    But let us consider, what services or responsibilities are delegated to states/provinces/municipalities, and what to federal? What sorts of services/functions are incumbent on a national public sector as a function of geography? Khazakhstan, Chad and Bolivia have no coastline, so one can imagine their allocation for coast guard services, or marine affairs in general is nil. While Chad and Bolivia share more national borders than the U.S. does, neither of those countries view themselves as under “threat” from illegal aliens entering in search of work. So the U.S. views allocatons of many many FTEs to securing the border as imperative, where those nations may not be so inclined.

    On this continent, we have expectations about standard of living, trade, full employment, health, and education (not necessarily in that order). So, we have expectations abut the number of FTEs that will be preoccupied with that. Moreover, since it IS a pretty big country with a substantial population, we presume that issues like employment will not simply be delegated locally, OR addressed only at the federal level, but addressed at both levels; I.E., we view some areas as warranting duplication of effort and budget.

    Davidson correctly makes the point that: “Reducing the number of employees doesn’t necessarily mean smaller government. It may mean hiring private contractors for the work.”

    I draw your attention to another well-written article on what amounts to the same topic, from about 2 months ago.

  • #131454

    Thanks for highlighting that story, Daniel. I think the key paragraphs are:

    Consider this from William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees and chairman of the Federal Workers Alliance. “If I can leave you with only one message today, let it be this,” he said at the hearing. “You do not measure the size of government by the number of federal workers, you measure the size of government in dollars and cents.”

    The reason? Reducing the number of employees doesn’t necessarily mean smaller government. It may mean hiring private contractors for the work.

    It’s not an easy answer. Here are a couple related discussions on GovLoop:

    Salaries vs. Services: Which Line Item Would You Cut First?

    GovHelp: Budget Crunch – What Government Programs Ought to Be Axed?

  • #131452

    Kathryn S.

    All interesting comments. While I may agree that the deficit is too high and reductions should be made; reducing staff has never been a long-term solution UNLESS research has indicated that staff is to high. That is not the case with this or any other subcommittee whose hearings I’ve followed over th past few months. Rep. Case is not alone among those who ‘make up reality’ as they go in order to justify the time they waste debating such issues.

    Is there duplication in government, yes. Does spending need to be reduced, probably. Are there practical ways to accomplish this, absolutely. Streamlining processes, eliminating deadwood employees, crafting retirement options, combining (truly) duplicative programs would all reduce costs. Applying the same models to the sacred cows of security and defense would also reduce costs. None of these options are being explored.

    Perhaps time, money and effort could be saved by limiting the duplicative subcommittee hearings that often require the same people to appear and justify their programs over and over again, when their time would be better served working in their offices.

  • #131450

    Anita Arile

    There are several factors in play here; such as, the agency’s mission, the type of service being provided to the public (i.e. medical, safety, educational..), what levels of knowledge are required, setup of the processing flow, budget allowance… I can go on and on, but these preceeding factors are probably some of the most common – and sometimes vital – factors to consider.

    Today’s government must find balance between technological resources and human resources. Although technology can replace several human resources, it is the agency’s responsibility to ensure that the human resource available are knowledgable and capable of continuing the processing flow manually.

    Through technology, many agencies are capable of minimizing paperwork by sharing common data. This has proven to benefit both the public and the employees of several California health care agencies.

    Personaly, I feel that the government (especially our local government on Guam) should find a reasonably legal procedure to properly screen individuals and measure performance. One process should be to administer sit-in tests conducted by a non-government business specificially related to the career field. The questions should be varying from the lowest level of common work to top level decision-making. Furthermore, the questions must be based on a combination of actual past scenarios, future scenarios and the SOP/Policies of the agency. If the individual scores higher than their current position, then a promotion should be recommended; and vise versa.

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