Obama Budget Would Increase Federal Workforce

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The size of the federal workforce would grow by 6,180 employees under President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget.

The departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Veterans Affairs would account for the estimated 0.3 percent increase in full-time civilian employees in executive agencies between this year and next, according to the budget blueprint. The administration would add staff to boost medical care for veterans as well as hire employees to work on cybersecurity, background checks for guns, border protection and immigration reform.

The administration also wants to boost hiring at the Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service, the Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The IRS, in particular, has had to do more with fewer employees in recent years: The agency’s workforce decreased about 9 percent between 2010 and 2012.

The proposed federal workforce increase does not include the Postal Service. Obama’s budget anticipates 23,579 fewer jobs at the financially strapped agency between 2013 and 2014. USPS, like many other agencies, has offered thousands of employees buyouts during the last few years to save money.

The civilian workforce has hovered around 2.1 million since 2012, with the most federal employees in California, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The size of the government’s total workforce, including military service members, the Postal Service and legislative and judicial branches actually is projected to decrease under the president’s fiscal 2014 budget by 3.6 percent, from about 4.3 million to 4.1 million employees. The reduction largely is due to fewer Postal Service employees and military service members because of the force reduction in Afghanistan.

The president’s budget also envisions smaller workforces at the Agriculture Department, Environmental Protection Agency and NASA “to correspond with decreases in funding,” the document says.

The number of employees at security-related agencies and at the VA grew after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, increasing the total federal workforce during the last 12 years. Still, the current workforce has declined during the last several decades relative to the country’s population. “By 2012, the ratio of residents to federal workers had increased to 148. Relative to the private sector, the federal workforce is less than half the size it was back in the 1950s and 1960s,” Obama’s budget stated.

Many congressional Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, want to decrease the federal workforce through attrition, which means hiring fewer employees to replace those who leave the government. Ryan’s plan proposes reducing the workforce by 10 percent through attrition by 2015.

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