Progress Report-Chapter 2


Employment Restrictions in Legislation

In a way, reinventing government is like building a house. You have to fortify all support systems; a weak one can topple the whole structure.

Take, for example, the habit of placing employment floors in legislation. Last spring, Congress voted overwhelmingly to cut the federal workforce by 272,900. But by August of this year, seven pending pieces of legislation contained provisions that would exempt over 250,000 employees from the personnel cuts Congress had passed earlier in the year.

Every member of Congress can think of a good reason why his or her favorite agency should be exempt from the total. But, as then-OMB Director Leon Panetta said, "We can't allow that kind of game to begin, or it's going to make this effort impossible." [24]

The NPR has consistently argued against having employment floors in legislation for two reasons. First, no agency should be exempt from pressure to increase efficiency as much as possible, no matter how important its mission. Second, the cumulative effect of employment floors makes the job of workforce reduction that much harder. Every time an agency or a portion of an agency is exempted from the overall mandate to cut the federal workforce, it increases the size of the cuts that must be borne by those agencies not exempted.


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