Off Welfare, Into Government?

March 5, 1997

Off Welfare, Into Government?

The White House may push agencies to hire welfare recipients as part of the Clinton Administration's welfare-to-work initiative, Federal Times reported this week.

Although Clinton challenged private sector employers in his State of the Union address to "turn those welfare checks into private sector paychecks," some may be turned into payroll checks from Uncle Sam.

The Office of Personnel Management has sent the president's Domestic Policy Council a memorandum with suggestions for how agencies could encourage welfare recipients to apply for federal jobs. OPM would not say what suggestions were included in the memorandum.

Agencies may be asked to supply job information to welfare offices and use existing personnel flexibilities to target welfare recipients.

Constance Horner, a former OPM director now with the Brookings Institution, told Federal Times that the administration should be careful to educate welfare recipients.

"It's important for people to understand there are demanding standards" for federal jobs, Horner said.

Union officials said that as long as people qualified for positions and did not take the place of current federal workers, they would support an initiative to hire welfare recipients. But Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation analyst for welfare issues, said the government should not create special public-sector opportunities for them.

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