Around Government

Vanishing federal jobs, rooting out resume fraud, courting the cloud.

Disappearing Act

For Congress’ next routine, lawmakers could make even more federal jobs vanish. 

By Eric Katz  

The federal workforce is shrinking. That applies in raw numbers and relative to the rest of the nation’s workforce. As President Obama spelled out in his fiscal 2016 budget proposal, the security portion of the federal workforce has dropped 33 percent as a segment of the U.S. working population since 1975, and the nonsecurity portion is down 38 percent. Since 1992, the nonsecurity federal workforce has declined 35 percent. 

The White House called this trend “striking,” especially considering “increasing responsibilities at many federal agencies.” Under the Obama administration, however, the problem has only grown. In the last two years, largely due to sequestration-induced hiring freezes and attrition measures, nonpostal agencies have shed 100,000 positions. 

Republicans want to accelerate the current trajectory. The twice House-passed budget offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., included a provision requiring the federal government to cut 10 percent of its jobs. In 2015, a similar attrition measure was introduced by a Republican lawmaker who said federal agencies should stop “blindly filling empty desks.” Another GOP House member has proposed eliminating 115,000 civilian positions from the Defense Department. 

Obama is attempting to stem the tide by proposing to boost agency rolls by 34,000 in fiscal 2016. 

With sequestration’s partial rollback set to expire this year, which side prevails will depend largely on the fiscal battles taking shape in the coming year.

Is There A Doctor In the House?

When one of your missions is to provide quality health care, your first priority is having enough doctors and nurses.

The Veterans Affairs Department, though, is having a tough time recruiting and retaining physicians, nurses and psychologists, according to the VA inspector general. The largest shortages are in five mission-critical occupations: medical officer, nurse, physician assistant, physician therapist and psychologist, the watchdog found. The department has been hiring doctors, nurses and clinicians over the past few years as part of a major initiative that will ultimately fill 28,000 jobs. The VA also announced it will increase the salaries of new physicians and dentists by up to $35,000 as part of the nationwide recruiting effort. President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposes adding 11,600 more full-time employees at the VA.

The department isn’t just on a hiring kick. VA Secretary Bob McDonald says that since he took the helm in July 2014, roughly 900 employees have been fired. Relatively few of those terminations were connected to the scandal over lengthy wait times for veterans seeking health care.   

-Kellie Lunney