Article Summary

President Trump and the Republican Congress seem determined to cut the federal workforce — and, perhaps, to target programs and even individual employees for failing to match Mr. Trump's political agenda. Federal employees should not panic: They are protected against unfair action by a wide range of laws, and in some cases by the First Amendment.

This article by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by OZY on January 24, 2017. The full article is .

Excerpted from:

Just How Much Can the President Slash the Federal Workforce?

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump put much of federal hiring on ice, acting on a campaign promise that many of his supporters relished: to reduce the federal workforce by attrition. No wonder many public servants are fearful of losing their hard-won careers — Trump also has nominated cabinet members who are hostile to the departments they will oversee, and his team has requested lists of government employees who, some worry, could face reprisal for working on disfavored policies.

“Donald likes to fire people,” as Trump’s then-henchman Chris Christie told donors last year, confirming that he was compiling a list of public employees for dismissal.

The new Republican Congress, meanwhile, has reinstated an obscure rule that could allow it to slash individual government programs — or even, theoretically, to target specific federal workers for firing. Some lawmakers have threatened to scrap the entire civil service merit system, which professionalized the federal workforce more than 130 years ago, and whose rules protect more than 2 million public servants from political interference and other unfair actions.