President Donald Trump signed another executive order that ordered a federal hiring freeze. This excludes military, public health and national security workers, but does cover the vast majority of federal employees. This is building on his campaign rhetoric and 100 day plan to reduce government payrolls and limit the size of the federal workforce.
But there are concerns now that this action could lead to a freezing of 2018 GS Pay scales, since the hiring freeze only affects existing open or newly planed positions. This is the most significant unintended effect of this action that many fear, even as they support the idea of cutting down government staffing.
With the 2017 GS pay raise of 2.1% (including locality pay) signed in by former President Obama before leaving office, many federal workers are seeing Trump’s anti-government stance as potentially leading to another pay freeze for Federal employees next year. While 2018 government pay freezes won’t be a topic that gets addressed until later in the year it is going to be a big watch list of item for those on the GS pay scale.
There are also concerns that if contractors are hired to complete the work left by these frozen positions, the quality of work will suffer and costs will just shift from payroll to expense budgets rather than be cut. Further how will federal agencies attract talented workers if there is little monetary incentive to stay or join. Federal employee groups have also said that since more than 85 percent of federal employees live and work outside the nation’s capital, so a hiring freeze targeting civilian workers will be felt in cities and towns across the country. Not just a Washington D.C issue.
[Update] The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released a memo, with guidelines for agencies’ around following the President’s executive memorandum of the federal hiring freeze. Basically it states that agencies cannot fill existing vacant positions, nor can they issue any new jobs offers or create new positions. However individuals who received a job offer or an appointment before Jan. 22 and have received a confirmation from the agency should report to work on the agreed start date. If no start date was agreed then agency heads should review the position and may rescind the offer.
Limited exemptions are allowed for positions/jobs that are necessary to maintain public safety or national security. The DOD confirmed that the memo does not apply to military personnel but includes civilian employees who work at defense agencies.