Recently, the Czar grumbled about why the government grows and never will, in reality, shrink. This is a big issue for lots of people on both sides of the aisle, but only conservatives and libertarians seems to come up with ideas for how to reduce government. One candidate says he’ll slash a bunch of useless departments; others say they’ll enforce 10% budget cuts on each department and let them kill themselves.
It’s not that easy. Candidate and Florida governor Jeb Bush has proposed a lengthy and detailed plan for reducing the government with a three-out/one-in policy, in which government agencies cannot hire another person until three employees leave, either by normal attrition or firing. In the latter case, he proposed making it much easier to fire employees.
Here’s the problem with all these theories: they will genuinely hurt the economy. Government has gotten so big that reflexively cutting something like the Sub-Bureau of French Language Studies can result in thousands of federal workers dumped on the streets. And let’s face it: some of these folks might perform with outstanding mediocrity in a government job but have zero chance of landing a job in the private sector with outdated computer training and poor communication skills. But as Island Dweller points out:
I don’t think there is any way to avoid some painful layoffs for superfluous or redundant federal employees, if we are to trim the size of the government. Mr. Bush’s suggested course of action has merit, as does just “blanking” a retiring employee’s position when they go, automating and consolidating duties whenever possible. In the agency I retired from, management tried a merit-based pay system but some job performance measurements are hard to quantify. For example – how does one go about determining how efficient an agency’s foreign counterintelligence section is in their labors? Do they deserve a merit pay boost because nothing happened this year on their watch? How do we know no penetrations, compromises, and so on occurred? Was that due to their diligence – or was it because the perps just haven’t slipped up yet?
Excellent questions, but Island Dweller also has an interesting thought. Generally, you can transfer a federal program to a state program and both benefit. So why not employees? After all:
Not all federal employees who implement those various and sundry programs everyone finds so onerous due to centralized control in DC actually reside there. A significant number of them live in the states where the programs are implemented, in field activities. The Bureau of Land Management is one activity that is covered under this description. Why not go ahead and lay these people off from the federal govt but absorb them into the state government (if they so desire), at state rates of pay and benefits, to continue implementation of the programs they are involved in?
Of course, considering ‘Puter’s rants about the exorbitant rates of compensation paid by some states to their public employees, this may actually be a step up for many of them. I know if I had signed up to work for the state in which I now reside rather than the federal government, I would actually have a slightly higher benefit check every month, but the big gain would have been in medical and dental benefits, which are better than for us retired feds. After reading what he has to say about New York state employee benefits, it sounds like if the state hires a person for any position whatsoever, and they make it past their probationary period (if there is one), you’re essentially on the payroll for life since your retired pay and benefits just about equal what you were making when you were actively working. I hear it’s about the same in New Jersey.
I’m not sure what we would do with those bureaucrats who live and work in DC administering these monstrosities; I reckon they would have to fend for themselves since their state-level counterparts would now be running the programs that were originally mismanaged so badly out of DC.
True: many states have their own BLM groups doing a great job in addition to the federal ones; indeed, many of the two agencies are probably friendly with each other. Field skills, in particular, transfer over well: BLM is a good example where a person in the field has real job skills valuable to a state agency.
Of course, the next question is what percentage of federal employees live well outside the DC area? Probably not enough to make a difference.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.