Federal Hiring Freeze Is Over, but There's a Catch
Agencies have to submit plans for cuts
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2017 11:31 AM CDT
President Trump signs an executive order implementing a federal government hiring freeze Jan. 23 in the Oval Office.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – It's not a carte blanche, but the White House on Wednesday lifted the federal hiring freeze put in place days after President Trump's inauguration. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney made the announcement Tuesday but paired it with the warning that agencies won't "be free to hire willy-nilly." What's replacing the freeze is what Mulvaney calls "a more surgical plan" and the next step in Trump's crusade to "drain the swamp" in Washington and save taxpayers money: Hiring can restart, Mulvaney says, but agencies will have to by June submit their plans for trimming their ranks, reports CNN. He provided no job-cut figures, but offered this: It "probably goes without saying we think we can run the government more efficiently than the previous administration can."

He did indicate that agencies whose budget Trump proposed significantly reducing (like the EPA) would be expected to cut generously, though NPR notes Congress will ultimately set all budget levels. The Wall Street Journal reports even the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, which may end up increasing their ranks should their budgets be increased, must consider whether redundant or nonessential positions can be eliminated. NPR points out the freeze hasn't been a total one: Military hiring continued, as did hires tied to national security and public safety. The AP cites Labor Department figures that show 6,000 federal jobs were added over January and February. As of 2014, there were 2.66 million federal employees, down from a high of about 3 million three decades prior; CNN reports the figure excludes those in military uniform and legislative and judicial branch employees.

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