Pay Freeze and Job Cuts, and Furloughs, Oh My!

The decisive 2011 Republican take-over of the House is being taken very seriously by the White House and grateful survivor Democrats. And it’s likely to mean major changes for federal workers that could not only have the backing of the newly empowered GOP majority but of a “we-got-the-message!” White House as well.

So what does the Republican takeover of the House mean to the government, and government workers? Nobody knows for sure but things that are on the table include:

  • A federal pay freeze in 2011, or,
  • A reduced federal pay raise in January.
  • Up to 10 furlough days next year for non-emergency federal workers, a Republican proposal that the Obama administration says is on the table and may be considered.
  • Elimination of thousands of federal jobs as part of a proposed GOP plan to cut federal spending $100 billion. The administration has indicated it would support job cuts if done via attrition.
  • A possible government shutdown (as happened in the 1990s) if the Congress and White House butt heads on major cuts or changes, like the repeal of the ACA healthcare proposal, or refusing to keep government running via continuing resolution. The current Congress has failed to approve most agency budgets for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
  • A new effort, with administration backing, to make it easier for the government to fire poor performers while protecting job rights. Similar efforts, by both the Carter and Reagan administrations, fizzled. But in those instances the OPM, the lead agency in any such reform, was headed by directors who lacked clout or alienated Congress. OPM’s current director, John Berry, has strong White House support and excellent bipartisan access to Congress thanks to his years with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

Bill Bransford, general counsel of the Senior Executive Association, predicts major changes are in the works for federal and postal workers. That includes the very real threat of a government shutdown.

Bransford, our guest on yesterday’s Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show, says he’s heard rumors that the President might propose a 0.9 percent federal pay raise for January, or even go along with a pay freeze. Congress is working on a 1.4 percent increase for white collar (non-postal) federal workers. But in the likely event that Congress doesn’t act during the upcoming lame duck session, the President would make the pay call.

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