Federal employment has received considerable attention of late, so now is a good time for this post.
In an August David Broder (Washington Post) (a columnist I appreciate) stated the DoD Secretary Robert Gates’ and his plan to trim department spending would trickle down through other departments. In this time of a soaring Washington deficit, political campaigns are full of the popular rhetoric to reduce spending and the deficit. Even the Republican’s Pledge to America promotes imposing a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees.
Let me be the first to reminder everyone that we have heard this before; and, many of those spouting this philosophy are the very incumbents causing the problem. Nonetheless, the issue of federal employment is worth examining.
I have always said that inefficient government has one big advantage – employment. The U.S. government employees over 2 million people, so just think how many people would be unemployed if government was more efficient. Like many issues, one can find the “rest of the story” and potential answers in the demographics.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management publishes The Fact Book: Federal Civilian Workforce Statistics (last published in 2007). Here are two prominent numbers about the Federal workforce: Average age is in the mid-40s, and over 70% of Federal employees are over 40. In other words, the Federal workforce is an old lot … and all this with 2006 employment numbers.
Second, whether Secretary Gates or any other department/agency head, are they going to lay off workers as they approach retirement?
Third, with the sudden “concern” about the deficit, federal employment is being scrutinized. With so man impending retirements, is this a good time to freeze employment?
Pragmatists (as me) see numbers are in place for a natural reduction in force across the federal government. For example, as personnel retire over the next 10 years, all departments will replace three retirees with two replacements – so plan accordingly. Heck, maybe having fewer workers would force the Feds to become more efficient.
Who is making the most sense? What do you think?