The Myth of “Rightsizing” the Federal Workforce

As some of you may or may not know GovLoop has a blog with the Huffington Post (It’s pretty cool, you should check it out). Every week we try to write about something that’s going on inside GovLoop.

Well, our most recent post about “Rightsizing” the government has blown up, and we’d love to get more of your opinions and voices! First off props to Daniel Crystal and all the GovLoopers who started the conversation about “rightsizing” and “how large should the government be?” last week.

Check out our Huffpost piece, which was featured on the Politics page. We have taken the liberty of taking some of the best comments and posting them below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

1) Government workers get buyouts. Private employees get laid off. Why the difference?

2) When government at all levels is reduced in size and scope to the sole purpose of protecting freedom and providing public goods, narrowly defined, the number of government employees and government contracts will finally be right sized.

3) The consultant to employee ration is out of control. Having worked in the government space, I can tell you that at least half the time, a consultant’s work had to be redone internally because they cannot compensate for lack of institutio­nal knowledge and deep understand­ing of an operationa­l culture from their outside perspectiv­e. They should set a limit on the consultant to employee ratio. Employee work in the end is more operationa­l and less costly.

4) I remember when Reagan came into office. He told the agencies freeze all hiring, if they are not on board by now don’t accept any more. If they are in the process of transferring they can only take the other job if THEY will pay their own way. If your staff gets so low you will have to appeal for extra personnel. He told the air traffic controller­s that they had three months to get back to work when they wanted to strike for more pay and if they didn’t report they would be let go. He thought the spending was out of control and tried to fix it. I can’t fault a president for trying.

5) So, the real question becomes what PROGRAMS will the GOP crowd willing to live without in pursuit of a truly small government. Seems like there is an increasing dsconnect between what the small government crowd wants in terms of service and the reality of what those things cost.

Feel free to add your opinion here or on the Huffington Post blog!

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Henry Brown

MY biggest comment would be: Why does this issue get any press at all…

I am absolutely certain that any comment here or on the Huffington Post blog will be true but will not be portable across the entire federal government…

It would be like me saying “all apples are red”. yes most apples are red but there are some darn good apples which are NOT red.

At last count there was some 1300 federal agencies and about 1,250,000 employees. are some of these employees excess SURE! are some of these federal agencies currently rightsized? SURE but would offer that the reverse is probably equally true.

If the political powers want to save money would offer that the best way to do that would be to tell each agency to submit a budget which cut xx percent from the next budget, and then during the approval of said budget do NOT allow special project/earmarks/ or whatever moniker you wish to call these amendments to be attached.

If the budget could NOT be met and additional monies were required require the agency head to explain why and after the explanation require a roll call vote.

Anthony Portare

Regarding question one, I disagree on buyouts versus layoffs. It depends on management level. Many senior corporate leaders get buyouts which exceed a lifetime of government salary. Furthermore, some of these peoples claim to success is running companies into the ground, and leaving others to pay for their mistakes. Oh how quick we forget the Wall Street Meltdown and after wards.

Dale S. Brown

Can you offer please offer some evidence of your assertion that the government offers buyouts more than the private sector? I frequently read of buyouts in the private and non-profit sector. General Motor offered buyouts in 2010 People from skilled trades were offered 60,000 a head (government usually offers 25,000). In 2008, the Post offered buyouts to over 100 employees- and it was the fourth one Here’s an article from Business Week that talks about whether or not private sector people should take buyouts. I ask you to offer evidence of your assertion that government workers get buyouts and private sector employees get laid off.