Washington, D.C. — The administration’s blanket order that government agencies must reduce their workforces for the sole purpose of shrinking the size of government is deeply concerning, said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
“The guidance seems to be little more than opening the door to increased contracting out of agency functions and services,” Reardon said. “The functions of government need to be performed and when there are not enough federal employees to do the work, agencies simply shift it to unaccountable private-sector contractors.”
NTEU argues that efficiency and effectiveness are best achieved when agencies have the funding and staffing needed to carry out their missions. “Sequestration has forced years of budget cuts onto the backs of federal agencies decimating workforces, driving talented people out of government and placing increasingly impossible workloads on the backs of dedicated employees struggling to get it all done,” Reardon said. “Budget cuts need to be reversed.”
The NTEU president noted that in many ways this guidance is an exercise in inefficiency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo is based on a vision not actual facts or numbers.
“Requiring government agencies to draft detailed plans for downsizing based on a budget that has yet to be released, let alone gone through the congressional appropriations process, is a wasteful exercise,” Reardon said. “Taxpayers deserve federal agencies that can fully deliver services that they rely on every day. This is not how we effectively provide food safety, innovative medical breakthroughs, strong borders and the thousands of other services federal employees undertake each day.”
“Shrinking workforces and increasing contracting out is not a recipe for improving government operations,” Reardon said. “It is a recipe for disaster.” Real improvements are best driven by frontline federal employees with deep knowledge of how to best serve our country’s citizens, he added.
There are parts of the OMB memo that NTEU supports, Reardon said. For example, plans to provide more training to managers and eliminating unnecessary layers of management are ideas that have promise and that NTEU has supported in the past.
OMB confirmed plans to propose a 1.9 percent pay raise for government workers in 2018, but NTEU believes this is not enough and instead has endorsed legislation providing raises of 3.2 percent. “Federal employees work hard every day and have suffered years of stagnant wages. They deserve better than a 1.9 percent increase.”
NTEU will closely monitor the implementation of the OMB guidance and encourage Congress to take steps to protect federal employees and the government services they provide to the American public.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments.