Federal hiring freeze a symbolic step toward a much larger goal

  • 24 January 2017
  • NormanL
Small steps...

One of Donald Trump's first acts as president was signing an executive order instituting a hiring freeze in the federal workforce. While this will be spun as a tough, necessary step to reduce the size and cost of government by supporters, and an attack on federal workers by opponents, the move is largely symbolic because of what it leaves out:

...federal employment numbers don’t include the gigantic “shadow bureaucracy” of government contractors.

And exactly how many people are technically private employees but actually get their pay from federal taxpayers? Well, because the federal government is so big and bloated, we don’t have an exact number.

Indeed, as reported by Government Executive, there’s not even an official inexact number.

How many contractor employees does the federal government rely on, at what cost per person, and how does that compare with the cost of assigning the same task to a full-time hire? When asked by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking member of the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office took a shot but left the $64,000 question unresolved. “Regrettably, CBO is unaware of any comprehensive information about the size of the federal government’s contracted workforce,” the nonpartisan analysts wrote in response. “However, using a database of federal contracts, CBO determined that federal agencies spent over $500 billion for contracted products and services in 2012.”

But we do know that it’s a very big number. An outside expert crunched the data and concluded that there are 5-1/2 contractors for every federal bureaucrat.

Second, the real issue is that the federal government has accumulated far too much power and is involved in many areas that either belong in the private sector (Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, etc) or should be handled by state and local governments (Department of Transportation, Department of Education, etc).

Those genuinely interested in cutting the size of goverment will work for the actual shuttering of useless departments and agencies, and the firing of their workforces.

That should be the goal. Until then, we will have to settle for the merely symbolic...which is still far more, and more radical, than anything Mr. Obama proposed during his entire eight years as president.