Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing entitled, “Agency Approaches to Reorganization: Examining OMB’s Memorandum on the Federal Workforce,” to examine the Administration’s plans to reorganize the federal government.
On April 12, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued agency guidance on how to fulfill the requirements of both the January 23, 2017, Presidential Memorandum imposing a hiring freeze and the March 13, 2017, Executive Order directing OMB to submit a comprehensive plan to reorganize federal agencies while aligning those initiatives with the President’s March 16, 2017, Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint. This guidance requires all agencies to:
- Begin taking immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels in the President’s FY 2018 Budget Request;
- Develop a plan to maximize employee performance by June 30, 2017; and
- Submit an Agency Reform Plan to OMB in September 2017 as part of the agency’s FY 2019 Budget submission to OMB that includes long-term workforce reductions.
Witnesses from the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, and Homeland Security testified about the processes they were undertaking to develop their plans and stressed that they were focusing primarily on serving their customers better rather than on ways to cut the workforce. While each agency mentioned that they were collecting ideas from employees on their reform efforts, NTEU submitted testimony stressing the need for agency leaders to do more to bring in the ideas of front-line workers and praised the work of Labor-Management Forums as a way to do so. Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) and Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) echoed the need for more employee engagement and that outreach efforts such as an email box or website to collect ideas and suggestions do not go far enough.
NTEU’s testimony also highlighted the excessive management layers at Customs and Border Protection and at the Farm Services Agency, which is one area that the OMB guidance lists as an area for reform. The testimony also expressed concern that the government’s reform efforts would lead to whole-sale outsourcing of federal jobs. NTEU has long maintained that federal employees, given the appropriate tools and resources, do the work of the federal government better and more efficiently than any private entity. Furthermore, the outsourcing of federal jobs loses institutional knowledge and expertise, creates ethical concerns, and inevitably results in an increase of waste, fraud, and abuse.
Ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of federal agencies is a goal that we all share. However, in looking to implement reforms, it is important that agencies engage with front-line federal workers and give them the tools and resources necessary to do their jobs.
NTEU will continue to fight to ensure that our voices are heard and that efforts to outsource our work are defeated.