Promise fulfilled: Trump freezes federal hiring amid demands for "diversity"

It was one of the promises Donald Trump made on the campaign trail which drew widespread approbation from conservatives while spurring varying degrees of either anger or depression among the beltway crowd. Trump said that it would be more of an ax than a new broom when it comes to the size of the federal workforce and he would freeze hiring if elected. The pledge led as many as a third of federal workers to say they might walk off the job if he was elected. So would he really do it? Well… that didn’t take long. (Government Executive)

Trump said his hiring moratorium would “be applied across the board in the executive branch” and apply to any positions vacant as of Jan. 22. It would bar agencies from creating new positions. Agency heads can exempt positions they deem “necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”

The memorandum gives the directors of the Office of Management and Budget (Trump’s pick, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., will face confirmation hearings Tuesday) and the Office of Personnel Management (Trump has yet to name an OPM leader) 90 days to come with a “long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government through attrition.” Once that plan is implemented, the hiring freeze will expire.

Outsourcing jobs to the private sector to get around the freeze will not be permitted, Trump wrote.

That last sentence is key and it’s going to keep Trump’s new OMB pick busy. Previous freezes under both Jimmy Carter and Reagan wound up not saving us much money because managers simply brought in more private sector contractors to get around the freeze. That allegedly won’t be happening going forward.

The attrition portion of the plan shouldn’t be too difficult. At any given time there are a significant number of workers who are eligible for retirement but still staying on the job until they max out their benefits and make preparations for the end of their careers. By simply failing to replace them we could significantly trim the herd.

You knew a move like this wasn’t going to happen without controversy and the old guard is already looking to cause trouble. The target for their ire is the concern that a hiring freeze will adversely affect diversity. If that one has you doing a double take, you’re not alone. But there’s a rationale being offered for it. You see, they needed to hire more Hispanic workers.

The Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission called on agencies with at least 1,000 full-time employees to “conduct a more focused barrier analysis on Hispanic employment” based on a recommendation from the Hispanic Council on Federal Employment. The reviews should focus on employees at the General Schedule 12 level through the Senior Executive Service, assessing recruitment of Latinos, hiring levels, promotions, and separations, among other workforce data and trends related to the population. OPM and EEOC are asking agencies for detailed, in-depth analyses…

The timing of the memo was unusual. It was issued two days before the Obama administration left, and less than a week later, President Trump issued an executive order freezing federal hiring except for members of the military, and public safety and public health workers. Trump has not announced a nominee to lead OPM yet, and EEOC Chair Jenny Yang’s term expires in July.

Did you catch that? We’re being set up for accusations that Donald Trump is suppressing diversity in hiring Hispanic workers. (Because he must be a racist, right?) But the basis for the accusation is that the Obama administration didn’t hire enough Hispanic workers. It’s really enough to make your head spin. But be that as it may, the big freeze is here and we expect to see the government behemoth going on a crash diet very soon.