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More lean times ahead for the federal bureaucracy
Mass retirements and hiring freezes have withered the federal workforce since President Trump's inauguration, whom analysts say is living up to his campaign pledges to shrink the federal bureaucracy.
By Rick Docksai
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Donald Trump pledged while running for president to shrink the size federal government if elected, and analysts say that he is following through on that promise post-inauguration. Mass layoffs, early retirements, and hiring freezes are proliferating throughout most federal agencies, with the workforce as a whole on course to downsize to levels not seen in decades.

Federal agencies slowed their spending earlier this year when President Trump laid out drastic spending cuts that would have slashed some agencies' budgets by as much as 30%. Although Congress did not pass a budget this year, the White House is warning agencies to expect even deeper cuts in the year ahead to offset the decreased tax revenue resulting from the newly passed tax law.


The spending cuts may force agencies to hold off on pay raises, according to some federal officials. Federal employees said that hundreds of their coworkers have taken early retirement offers, and their job vacancies have stayed unfilled due to retirement freezes that most federal agencies have kept in place since the spring.

"Morale has never been lower," said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers at more than 30 agencies. "Government is making itself a lot less attractive as an employer."

Even agencies that are hiring are having difficulty filling some positions. A slower-than-usual pace of political appointments has left leadership vacuums in many agencies' upper ranks.

Overall, every Cabinet department except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Interior has fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office. The downshift in hiring marks a contrast with the Obama years, when federal hiring underwent a boost.