Lawmakers again seek to cut federal workforce through attrition

Bill prompted by the public’s votes on the GOP YouCut website would allow one fed to be hired for every three who leave.

Lawmakers in both chambers have introduced legislation that aims to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015 through attrition.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., estimate the legislation, which they introduced this week, will save $139 billion over the next decade. The bill calls for hiring one federal employee to replace every three workers who retire or leave their job.

This is not the first such bill introduced during this Congress. In June, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sponsored a bill with the same language along with fellow Republican Reps. Dennis Ross of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah. Mulvaney introduced his bill, which Issa, Chaffetz and Ross are co-sponsoring, because of results from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's YouCut program. The Virginia Republican created the program to allow the public to vote online or by cellphone for spending cuts they would like to see lawmakers shepherd in Congress. Reducing the federal workforce through attrition was one of the initiatives under consideration on the YouCut website. Mulvaney's bill will be the version that moves forward.

"If we're ever to have any hope of reining in the size, scope and cost of government, we need to look at the size of the federal workforce," Johnson said in a statement. "This bill accomplishes that -- not by laying off any workers, but through simple attrition. That's a common-sense approach, and a bipartisan one. It was a recommendation of President Obama's own fiscal commission," he said referring to the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission, led by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson from Wyoming and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

The bill would make exceptions for certain national security concerns, or any event threatening public health or safety. The attrition policy would stay in effect through Sept. 30, 2014. The proposal also includes a provision that limits procurement on service contracts to supplement the reduced workforce "except in cases in which a cost comparison demonstrates that such contracts would be to the financial advantage of the government."

Mulvaney noted: "This legislation -- a proposal supported by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission and selected by the American people as part of the YouCut program -- will boost private sector employment by slowing the explosive growth of the public sector."

Other lawmakers have introduced similar legislation to reduce the federal workforce. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., introduced a bill in April to prohibit agencies from hiring new employees until the deficit eases. The measure allows for "common-sense" exceptions for national security and law enforcement. It exempts the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission and reassignments within the same agency, and it allows for short-term, seasonal hiring and transitional positions involving a new presidential administration. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., in February reintroduced the Federal Workforce Reduction Act, which would cut the federal workforce by attrition through the hiring of only one employee for every two who retire or leave service. That bill also would require agencies to justify their new hires and the administration to report to Congress all new employees by agency.

Separately, House and Senate Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to streamline the federal hiring process, a priority of the Obama administration. The bill includes provisions that would require agencies to develop workforce plans focused on hiring and recruitment; move the government to a resume-based application system, which is already in place; reduce hiring time to an average of 80 days from the time a vacancy is posted; and better integrate managers into the hiring process and provide them with more flexibility in selection decisions.

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