At the end of 2017, there were 16,000 fewer federal employees. The President has been vocal about reducing the size of the federal workforce and it appears some agency heads are taking it seriously and not filling vacant positions. An analysis done by Reason asserts we would need similar cuts for the next nine years to reach pre-Obama employment levels, but we are headed in the right direction.
Now it seems the administration is poised to make even more drastic changes to the civil service workforce. According to the Washington Examiner proposals are being made to make public sector employment look a lot more like how employees are managed in the private sector.
Taking a page from cutting edge employers such as Google and Amazon, a whole host of proposals are being made to drag the federal behemoth into the 21st century. Imagine a federal government where the best employees are rewarded with better raises and bonuses. Where outdated work structures like managers having secretaries and forms in triplicate are no longer the norm.
One where underperforming and poor performing employees are counseled and not rewarded. Perhaps even *gasp* made available to the market. You know, like the rest of us. One where benefits like vacation and healthcare don't outpace the private sector by nearly 50%. And where you can't just not come to work and collect your full salary for six months before you retire because you have banked 20 years worth of vacation.
According to the Examiner several proposals are being made and they have bipartisan support to make the legal changes required to reform the workforce. Some of the proposals they list are:
- Creation of a bonus pool to reward good employees.
- An end to so-called “step increases,” pay hikes of 3 percent to 5 percent that 99.7 percent of federal workers get even if they are poor performers.
- Changes to the overall pay package, with a focus on generous retirement benefits, that align federal pay to the private world.
- Retraining of employees.
- Redeploying workers where they are needed.
In plain English this means things like eliminating pensions and placing federal employees in 401K plans. Retraining people in outdated functions or whose job can be easily replaced by technology. Rewarding those to do a good or excellent job better than those who do not.
These agencies are paid for with taxpayer dollars. Much like a CEO has one job, increasing the wealth of the shareholder, the heads of the agencies should have one job. Utilizing taxpayer dollars in the most efficient way possible to complete the narrowest possible mission of the agency.
While my limited government heart feels like we could probably eliminate more than half of the current agencies and no one's life would change dramatically, modernizing the workforce and trimming the number of employees is a good place to start. Next I'd love to see someone grab Carly Fiorina's mantra of zero based budgeting, but I won't hold my breath.