Reardon Advises Caution on Government Reorganization

National Treasury Employees Union's picture

July 18, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Its emphasis on outsourcing and lack of input from frontline federal employees means the administration’s proposed government reorganization should be viewed with caution by members of Congress before implementing the changes, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union said today.

Under this administration, it is unfortunate that there has already been a lost opportunity to improve government by not engaging with, and including, frontline employees in ways to improve agency functions and operations from the very beginning,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon said in testimony.

Reardon’s written statement was part of the Wednesday hearing on the reorganization conducted by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“NTEU has always supported efforts to improve agency performance and eliminate government waste and inefficiencies,” Reardon said. “However, previous reform and reorganization efforts failed to accomplish these goals. Instead, we’ve seen overly ambitious efforts to reform the civil service that eroded employee rights and employee morale or haphazard efforts to reduce the number of federal workers by cutting an arbitrary number of personnel, implementing a hiring freeze, or failing to replace employees who had retired resulting in gutted agencies and largely contributing to the looming staffing crisis facing the federal government today.”

The proposals, if approved by Congress, would impact NTEU-represented employees at Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

NTEU is also concerned with the proposal to break up the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and move core workforce policy decisions to the White House.

“OPM’s independent authority over the career civil service—and employing agency human resources’ actions and decisions—must be maintained for our government not to revert to the spoils system,” Reardon said.

As Reardon has testified previously, once the administration instructed agencies to formulate reorganization plans, NTEU collected suggestions from its members and submitted those to agency heads, with little to no feedback. The ideas varied by agency, but they generally included expanded telework policies to help save real estate costs; consolidating layers of management; hiring more support staff; empowering frontline employees with more decision-making authority; and filling existing vacancies.

Reardon said when coupled with the administration’s other proposals to freeze pay, cut retirement, reduce benefits, and weaken the collective bargaining rights of federal workers, the reorganization is one more piece of evidence that the administration “fails to understand that agencies cannot hope to successfully implement federal programs and policies without providing for and valuing a skilled workforce.”

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