House committee to consider across-the-board cuts for feds

Wednesday - 11/2/2011, 3:25pm EDT

This story has been updated from its original version. H.R. 665 and 1734 were removed from the calendar.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans Thursday to mark up legislation to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next three years.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), proposes replacing only one of every three employees who leaves the government. He said more than 400,000 workers are eligible for retirement.

Mulvaney estimated the bill would save $139 billion over the next decade.

In addition, the bill "will boost private sector employment by slowing the explosive growth of the public sector," he said in a statement posted on his Web site.

Federal unions and management associations have kicked their lobbying efforts into full gear against the bill. They haven't minced words, either.

"This bill is simply wrongheaded, misguided and based on false assumptions," said National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen Kelley in a release.

"H.R. 3029 represents an unusually thoughtless approach toward the management of the federal civil service as well as an obvious political payoff to contractors by the bill's sponsors," said American Federation of Government Employees legislative director Beth Moten in a letter to committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

She said Mulvaney wants "agencies to have no choice but to use contractors instead of federal employees-even when work can be performed more efficiently by federal employees or the work is sufficiently important and/or sensitive as to require performance by federal employees."

Workforce cuts in the 1990s forced agencies to hire contractors to fulfill services, said the Government Managers Coalition in their letter to Issa and Cummings.

"Ultimately, neither the cost nor the true size of the actual federal workforce (including contractors) shrank during this time," they said.

A spokesperson for committee Democrats said they may offer amendments to give agencies more flexibility to manage their workloads and programs within a reduced budget, exempt agencies that serve veterans from the cuts and require agencies to report on programs and services that would be hurt by these reductions.

The committee also will mark up other bills tomorrow.

  • H.R. 3262, the Government Results Transparency Act, which Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) introduced, and establishes consistent electronic standards for Federal performance data to be downloaded, searched and analyzed more easily.

  • The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011, which Issa and Cummings will introduce Thursday before the markup.