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Federal Hiring Freeze Ends But Restructuring Continues

It was good while it lasted.

By David Thornton

President Trump is ending the federal hiring freeze that he put into place in January as one of his first acts as president. The freeze excluded military personnel and key posts in the Departments of Defense, State and the Veteran’s Administration.

Under the exemptions, the Department of Labor estimates that the federal government hired about 4,000 people in January and 2,000 in February. These include staffers to help reduce the backlog of claims at the VA, which recently topped 100,000.

The upside is that even though federal agencies can resume hiring, it will be at a slower pace. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that some positions would be permanently unfilled. The elimination of the freeze “does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly,” he told the NBC. “What we’re doing tomorrow [Wednesday] is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on Day One in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.”

Mulvaney said that federal agencies will be required to submit plans to make themselves leaner and more cost-effective. Even agencies that are slated to receive increased funding under the proposed Trump budget will be required to eliminate redundant and inefficient activities and positions.

“The government reorg is probably the biggest story nobody is talking about,” Mulvaney told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re trying to do something that’s never been done.”

The Trump Administration had ordered agencies to start from scratch in their planning. Mulvaney admits that many of the proposed changes will need congressional approval and said that he was confident that a bipartisan agreement could be reached on improving the government. Under Senate rules, at least eight Democrats need to vote for cloture before the Senate can vote on proposed bills.

“We’re not trying to ram it down their throats,” he said.

“This is a big part of draining the swamp,” Mulvaney said. “What you’re talking about doing is restructuring Washington, D.C. and that is how you drain the swamp … This is a centerpiece of his campaign and a centerpiece of his administration.”

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