Budget’s Personnel Provisions Detailed

The Obama administration has issued additional details of its budget plans unveiled last week, projecting that the federal workforce would grow by 14,000 full-time equivalent positions, or about 0.7 percent, over estimated 2014 levels under the plan. Growth is targeted at VA for veterans medical care; Justice, for cybersecurity and civil rights enforcement. Customs and Border Protection for border security and related functions; and SSA for program integrity. Agencies including EPA, NASA, GSA and TSA are slated for reductions due to realignments and technology improvements. The document further says that while the proposed 1 percent raise for January 2015 “is lower than the private sector increases and the statutory formula, it strikes a balance between tight budget constraints we continue to face, while also recognizing the critical role our employees play in our country.” It cites as a success the increase in telework, although stating that “there is still more work to be done in breaking barriers to the effective use of telework”—the most commonly cited one of which is resistance of managers. Other initiatives include continued emphasis on labor-management cooperation and involvement of unions in agency decision-making; a renewed emphasis on training that has been cut back in recent years; and creating a commission to recommend changes in what it calls the outdated GS system, an idea that has failed to gain support even from federal unions in the past.