President Trump Freezes Federal Hiring, Potential Impact to Veterans

This morning, President Trump signed three Executive Orders: 1) A Federal hiring freeze, 2) Formal withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and 3) Reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” which prohibits non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding— including healthcare providers or organizations— from providing or promoting abortion abroad.

Of particular importance to IAVA members and supporters is the Executive Order initiating the Federal hiring freeze that was promised during POTUS’ campaign. We have yet to see the detailed language of the memorandum. However, this action could have significant implications for veterans seeking care and benefits from the VA and those seeking employment from the federal government.

President Trump’s original plan, “Contract with the American Voter,” calls for “a hiring freeze on all Federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition” while exempting military, public safety, and public health as part of his first-100-day agenda. The contract promotes it as one of six measures “to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.” Today’s announcement only specified the military exemption. If public health and safety workers are not exempt from today’s action, it could mean challenges for the VA to recruit talent and fill mission critical positions, including clinicians, nurses and support staff. It will likely also impact the ability of the Veteran Benefits Administration to maintain staffing levels, which could impact benefits. If they are exempt, it is still  likely to impact the ability of clinicians to get their jobs done without sufficiently available support staff.

This is all speculation for now, but it certainly warrants attention. The crux of the problem with this freeze is that it will not resolve the “corruption” issue. In 1982, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published the report, “Recent Government-Wide Hiring Freezes Prove Ineffective in Managing Federal Employment,” where it was found that hiring freezes had little effect on Federal employment levels, in addition to “disrupted agency operations, and in some cases, increased costs to the Government.” During past hiring freezes, the GAO has found that agencies have circumvented the freezes in a variety of ways, such as hiring part-time and temporary workers, using contractors, and increasing overtime.

IAVA will continue to monitor this issue and its potential impact to our members and supporters, and will keep you updated as developments emerge.

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