President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze will last only as long as it takes his administration to come up with an alternative attrition plan, according to a memorandum released by the White House Monday, and could provide broad exemptions for agency leaders.
Trump said his hiring moratorium would “be applied across the board in the executive branch” and apply to any positions vacant as of Jan. 22. It would bar agencies from creating new positions. Agency heads can exempt positions they deem “necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”
The memorandum gives the directors of the Office of Management and Budget (Trump’s pick, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., will face confirmation hearings Tuesday) and the Office of Personnel Management (Trump has yet to name an OPM leader) 90 days to come with a “long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government through attrition.” Once that plan is implemented, the hiring freeze will expire.
Outsourcing jobs to the private sector to get around the freeze will not be permitted, Trump wrote. Similar provisions were included in OMB guidance implementing freezes put into place by presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, though the Government Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) found agencies frequently ignored the guidance and circumvented the intent of the moratorium by hiring contractors anyway. That, in part, led to the federal government saving very little money through the freeze, GAO said.
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Trump’s freeze will apply to all agencies, regardless of their funding stream. Some agencies can reallocate funds to deliver essential services, the president said.
“In carrying out this memorandum, I ask that you seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services,” Trump said. “Accordingly, this memorandum does not prohibit making reallocations to meet the highest priority needs and to ensure that essential services are not interrupted and national security is not affected.”
The order does not apply to any political hires, nor does it repeal any collective bargaining agreements.
For more on Trump’s freeze, including reactions from the federal community, click here.