Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze – January 23, 2017
…”Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Director of OPM, shall recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition. This order shall expire upon implementation of the OMB plan. This hiring freeze applies to all executive departments and agencies regardless of the sources of their operational and programmatic funding, excepting military personnel.
In carrying out this memorandum, I ask that you seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services. Accordingly, this memorandum does not prohibit making reallocations to meet the highest priority needs and to ensure that essential services are not interrupted and national security is not affected.
Senate Overseer Promises Reforms to Federal Pay, Performance Management and Discipline
February 9, 2017
Senators on both sides of the aisle praised federal employees during a hearing Thursday, agreeing President Trump’s hiring freeze is an inefficient way to govern and promising to find bipartisan solutions to improve the civil service. (Inefficient? Really? What is wrong with management and personnel departments performing the job they have been hired to do? Not every single operation or function can be or should be micro-managed by a congressional committee. Seriously, praise employees for doing the job they have been hired to do? That is like giving medals for participating not achieving a goal. From what I have seen over the years and in front of oversight committees, many have been political hacks who were definitely not hired for their intelligence but for their willingness to follow orders without thinking.)
The Senate will push for changes to hiring, training, compensation, performance management, and discipline and separation, according to Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s panel on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. Lankford vowed to hear a “wide variety of viewpoints” in drafting “comprehensive reforms,” saying the civil service was not a partisan issue. (Not partisan? Nothing in congress should be partisan. It should be for what is best for the country and citizens within the constitutional parameters.)
In his first hearing of the 115th Congress on the subject, Lankford started to deliver on that promise, soliciting input from a panel of federal employee advocates. Leadership at the American Federation of Government Employees, Senior Executives Association and Federal Managers Association all testified to the subcommittee. The groups expressed a willingness to work with the lawmakers on their efforts. (It is good to see a junior member stepping up and taking the initiative to tackle “cold case” tasks. For too long, career politicians have taken their time and found ways to avoid getting work done by arguing endlessly on inconsequential things. Let’s hope others will also get off their royal chairs and lounging couches.)
“No one at this table feels that we should keep bad performers on, and we’re all interested in expediting removal of employees who should be removed for performance,” said Bill Valdez, SEA’s president. (Start with taking away the seniority perk of not being fired for poor performance.)
AFGE President J. David Cox repeatedly stated no one in his union wanted bad employees in government, but said additional training and resources would prove more beneficial than new legislation. (umm – No, if someone has had regular training over the years then they should already have been caught up. There is only a very few times and reasons when ignoring the regulations should be allowed, after that removal is required if group morale and performance is to be kept up. Managers have to make tough calls every day. That is what they are paid to do. Not be in “touch with feelings” and allowed to pick and choose which regulations to follow.)
“No new laws are needed,” Cox said. “America has the very best civil service in the world.” (Well, possibly part of this statement is true. Follow the laws already in place. It seems over the last dozen or more years people have decided that laws are simply words and their own view is the only correct way to get things done–being lawful is only a side benefit. Best in the world? Maybe considering the laws governing and actions taken if those in other countries don’t toe the line. I’m thinking prison and firing squads or stonings might be plenty of incentive to keep those people in line.)
Lankford, too, had kind words for the federal workforce, saying agencies “employ some of the best and brightest individuals this country has to offer.” He advocated for “substantive legislative reform,” however, saying Congress should take the mantle of civil service changes rather than leaving it to the executive branch. Trump’s hiring freeze “may not be the optimal solution for creating an efficient and effective workforce,” Lankford conceded, but he did not fault the president for taking action where Congress had failed to engage.
“Congress can either watch as the administration deals with the federal workforce through executive actions or it can find consensus and work with the administration,” Lankford said. (Good point. Certainly often used by the last administration.)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., the subcommittee’s ranking member, warned that the hiring freeze could have a “chilling effect” on those looking to start a career in public service. (Last I heard most people apply for a job because they need to work to eat and live comfortably, not for some altruistic reasons. For a long time the public and private business sectors have not been hiring or were laying off. Only bloated federal hiring has been available. So supposedly government got “good workers” by default and those only stayed long enough to find a better position.)
“Across the board cuts and the shrinking of the overall federal workforce are not the answer,” Heitkamp said. (Oh yes it is if we want to reduce debt and actually have more constitutionally aligned federal government. Dems put us in this position with their “socialist” politically correct “touchy feely” ways.)
Lankford took a more cautious approach than many of his Republican colleagues who have discussed civil service reform, with the senator saying it would be important to focus on hiring — as changes on the front end would solve many of the problems with firing and oversight — and pledging to support more funding for training managers. He also promised to “protect great employees and ensure they have good due process.”
There appeared to be bipartisan agreement — and buy-in from the witnesses — on moving federal employees toward a pay-for-performance system. Lankford expressed concern that federal agency culture rewards attendance over initiative and fails to adequately differentiate levels of job performance. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a former head of the Office of Management and Budget, agreed, saying it was important not to give high performing employees the impression their hard work does not matter. Valdez posited the government needed to reevaluate its “risk-reward framework,” noting “not everyone deserves to be promoted and get a bonus.”
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., expressed concern with the Trump administration potentially coercing federal employees, noting White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments that “career bureaucrats” should “either get with the program or they can go.” Asked whether employees should speak out against leadership as they see fit, the employee representatives said they would never advise their members to be insubordinate, but that they should follow procedures in place if asked to carry out tasks they believe are unlawful or unconstitutional. (Didn’t notice a whole lot of “speaking out” during Obama’s terms in office when he was not following the law.)
Lankford pledged to work with the Trump administration, especially OMB Director-designate Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. The senator said he has reminded Mulvaney that OMB is not just a budget office, but a management center as well. Lankford also praised the work of former Office of Personnel Management acting Director Beth Cobert and vowed to see her progress continued.
Geez, again with the deliberate sabatoge of Trump’s actions. The memorandum clearly states a hiring freeze is only temporary…and actually placed the responsibility and term of freeze squarely upon the OMB and OPM to determine just how long the freeze lasts. Kinda smart if you ask me…why get Trump’s head on a pike, let the agency get busy and fulfill the terms by recommending a long-term plan then the freeze ends.
Civil Service has needed overhaul for many years. That is within the purview of Congress and like many other issues has been swept aside thanks to politics. But once provided, it becomes the office of management and personnel that is supposed to handle the day-to-day function, determine needs for positions, review practices and manage personnel not congress to micro-manage.
It is past time all those crooks and family members were discovered and given the boot. I can visualize all those freeloading employees now that are screaming and trembling from fear as they realize they are about to be caught and possibly imprisoned for those many years of living off the backs of taxpayers while viewing porn and playing tic-tac-toe at their desks. If they were doing the job correctly then why would they worry about their jobs?