Special Report: The Federal Hiring Freeze

Special Report: The Federal Hiring Freeze

On Jan. 23, President Trump fulfilled a campaign promise to freeze federal hiring, issuing an executive order that prohibits agencies from filling many civilian positions. This special report breaks down the specifics of the hiring freeze, including additional information on exceptions, key dates and what federal employees can expect in the coming months.

Some Surprising Facts on the ‘Swamp’ and the Hiring Freeze

Some Surprising Facts on the ‘Swamp’ and the Hiring Freeze

Political scientist John J. Dilulio Jr., who worked briefly in the George W. Bush White House, believes the ongoing debate over President Trump’s hiring freeze and vow to “drain the swamp” could use a more extremely vetted set of (nonalternative) facts.

In a Feb. 13 blogpost for the Brookings Institution, where he is a telecommuting senior fellow, he lays out 10 points designed to better define “big government,” whether one cares most about spending, activity or workforce size.

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Acting EPA head: Hiring freeze challenges ‘our ability to get the agency’s work done’

Acting EPA head: Hiring freeze challenges ‘our ability to get the agency’s work done’

February 15 at 4:00 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator, Catherine McCabe, told employees this week that the Trump administration’s federal hiring freeze “is already creating some challenges to our ability to get the agency’s work done.”

The comments came in a weekly video update that McCabe, a career EPA employee who previously served as a top official in its New York regional office, has been producing for staff since President Trump took office last month.

Virtually each week, she has sought to reassure EPA employees who privately — and publicly in some cases — have expressed concerns about Trump’s promises to scale back the agency’s regulatory role and his nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a longtime EPA antagonist, as its next leader.

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Why Hiring Freezes Don’t Work

Why Hiring Freezes Don’t Work

Team Trump rode into town determined to disrupt the federal government. One of the very first disrupters was a hiring freeze on federal employees, with a promise to reduce the size of government through attrition. That has certainly disrupted government—but it’s missed the chance for the real transformation that President Trump promised and that the federal government desperately needs.

The freeze is a clumsy tool aimed at the wrong problem. Lessons from past administrations (both Democratic and Republican) teach us that hiring freezes inevitably—and quickly—crack and thaw. Shrinking the workforce through attrition is guaranteed only to produce a federal bureaucracy badly out of step with the government we want.

Here’s why. There’s no such thing as “the federal bureaucracy.”  In fact, the bureaucracy falls into four buckets.

First, there are the big-three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They account for 51 percent of all federal spending, but the agencies managing them employ just over 3 percent of federal employees. If you freeze employees in this group, you lose leverage over vast sums of money and open the door to waste, fraud, and abuse. In fact, each employee in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from the administrator to the receptionist, is responsible, on average, for more than $140 million in spending—each.


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OPM Releases Additional Hiring Freeze Guidance

OPM Releases Additional Hiring Freeze Guidance


The Office of Personnel Management has provided the following list of questions and answers with additional information on the hiring freeze announced last month.

On January 23, 2017, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum (PM) titled, “Hiring Freeze” to be applied to all executive branch agencies.  This document provides a list of frequently asked questions and responses to assist agencies in implementing the PM.  Agencies must implement the PM and associated guidance (M-17-17 and M-17-18) in accordance with any lawful collective bargaining obligations that may apply.


Q 1. Which agencies are covered by the hiring freeze?

A:  The hiring freeze applies to all vacant positions in the executive branch (unless otherwise exempted) regardless of the hiring authority used for the appointment.  Agencies should consult with their agency counsel if there are specific questions regarding the applicability of the freeze to their organization or specific situations.

Q 2.  Does the hiring freeze apply to uniformed services personnel outside of the Department of Defense (DoD)?

A:  The freeze does not apply to members of the uniformed services outside the DoD, who are otherwise covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), such as U.S. Coast Guard and Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Q 3. Does the hiring freeze apply to positions in the competitive, excepted, and Senior Executive Service (SES)?

A:  Yes, the hiring freeze applies to positions in all three types of service unless otherwise exempted.

Q 4. Does the hiring freeze apply to positions filled by political appointees?

A:  No. The hiring freeze does not limit the appointment of individuals to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service (SES) or to Schedule C positions in the Excepted Service, or the appointment of individuals to any other positions where the incumbent serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority (i.e., “appointed” positions of a political/non-career nature).

Q 5. Does the hiring freeze apply to appointments of all types of duration (i.e., temporary, term, time-limited, and permanent)?

A:  Yes.  The hiring freeze applies to all types of appointments regardless of duration, unless otherwise exempted.

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