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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Freezing Pay, Not Hiring

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During the 2010 midterm elections, congressional Republicans made a pair of bold promises: to freeze federal pay and agency hiring

They ended up getting half of what they were looking for, Politifact reports. As most federal employees doubtless can't forget, in December 2010, President Obama signed legislation capping statutory, across-the-board pay raises. (Some employees have continued to get within-grade increases and promotions to higher-paying jobs.) The freeze was enacted even before the GOP formally took control of the House.

But what about hiring? While various pieces of legislation were floated to enact a hiring freeze, and certain agencies, such as the Justice Department, the Air Force and the General Services Administration, implemented their own freezes for budgetary reasons, Congress has yet to pass a blanket prohibition on hiring. Indeed, Politifact notes, agencies hired more than 108,000 workers in fiscal 2011 and almost 60,000 in the first three quarters of fiscal 2012.

Still, we're not out of the woods yet. A hiring freeze could end up being part of budget negotiations to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. The influential Simpson-Bowles Commission stopped short of backing a full freeze, but did recommend that agencies hire only two workers for every three that leave federal service. Then there's the looming budget sequester. The Defense Department already has indicated that if a sequester goes into effect next year, a departmentwide freeze on hiring is almost inevitable.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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