Unions wary of Obama’s consolidation plans

Federal employee unions Friday responded with reserved skepticism to President Obama's proposal to merge several federal trade- and business-related functions throughout government.

The Consolidation Authority Act, which would allow Obama to fast-track through Congress a plan to whittle away at six major departments and agencies that handle business and trade, would eliminate some 1,000 to 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs through attrition -- a move the White House expects would save $3 billion during the decade, officials said Friday. Many of the job eliminations would be in "administrative support areas," Jeff Zients, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director of management, said during a conference call with reporters. "When you consolidate, you can have more efficiency and be more streamlined in your support functions across the board," he said.

The proposed reorganization affects the Commerce Department, Small Business Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Obama also seeks to elevate SBA to Cabinet-level status.

National Federation of Federal Employees National President William Dougan said while the "proposal shows promise for rooting out inefficiencies, the fact that a restructuring could lead to large-scale layoffs is a very serious concern."

He noted, "With millions of American workers already unemployed, we are looking for proposals that create jobs, not eliminate them. Our sincere hope is that as these federal agencies are reconfigured, they find a way to make sure thousands of people working in these agencies aren't given pink slips."

The Obama administration sought input on the reorganization effort from federal employees through websites, applications and forms, Zients said. "Many of the best ideas come from front-line employees, and we've got great people on the front line in the federal government," he said.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents employees at most of the affected agencies, said he welcomed the elevation of SBA administrator to a Cabinet-level position, but was "eager" to review the rest of the details of the plan, taking issue with what he called Obama's "notion that most of government is inefficient and that cutting federal workers will somehow solve the problem."

He added, "Federal employees and supervisors are only carrying out the work that has been created by Congress and elected officials, who have mandated these various layers of bureaucracy largely for political gains."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.