Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, sending the Republican businessman to the White House as the first president-elect with no prior experience in government or the military.
Trump’s unexpected victory sent shockwaves throughout the country and the world, and will likely do the same for federal agencies. Trump has promised to institute a governmentwide hiring freeze on his first day in office and to change civil service laws to ease the firing of disloyal workers. Last month, just 65 percent of federal employees said they were committed to staying in their jobs if Trump were elected.
The real estate icon-turned-politician’s transition efforts are already well under way, helmed for much of the last several months by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, though recent reports have indicated Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is now in control of that team. The General Services Administration, which has the lead in transition planning, has praised the Trump campaign for the time and attention it has devoted to the effort.
Still, there promises to be turbulence ahead. Just this week, Trump surrogate and potential Cabinet appointee Newt Gingrich said he expects a battle between the new administration and federal employee unions similar to the one seen in Wisconsin after Republican Gov. Scott Walker pushed to strip government labor groups of their collective bargaining rights. Additionally, Trump biographers and political management experts have told Government Executive they expect a steep learning curve for the next president’s administration as the businessman learns how the power of the Oval Office differs from that of the executive boardroom.
Expect Trump to fill his Cabinet with familiar names that have been associated with his campaign, such as Gingrich, Sessions, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, all of whom NBC News has reported are in line for jobs. Those who have known Trump for decades say he is loyal to his inner circle and likes to keeps its members by his side.
Vice President-Elect Mike Pence has historically supported limiting the size of the federal workforce and moving government employees to a pay-for-performance system.
Homeland Security Department agencies such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement could see immediate adjustments under Trump’s presidency, as he has vowed to triple the size of ICE’s workforce to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants. Federal contractors could run into obstacles as well, as Trump has a history of shorting those hired to work for his company, ostensibly because those firms failed to deliver quality goods and services.
Trump has promised to rid government of “stupid people,” but has not consistently preached the conservative orthodoxy of reducing the size of government at all costs. Many of his proposals would in fact require significantly more agency funding. The president-elect, who built his candidacy on the basis of his business experience, has speculated that managing the county “may be easier than building a business.” After 17 months of campaigning, he will finally have the chance to prove it.
For a full analysis of what Trump’s presidency will mean for federal agencies and their employees, read our profile from September.