Will Lawmakers Hurt Federal Recruiting by Kicking Budget Can Down the Street?

Susan Hall

The deal Congress passed to avert the fiscal cliff delays for two months the severe budget cuts of sequestration — the previously considered unthinkable cuts that lawmakers placed on themselves if the two parties could not come to a budget agreement.

Under sequestration, Defense Department budgets would be cut by about 9.4 percent, and domestic agency budgets by roughly 8.2 percent. Military personnel and the Department of Veterans Affairs are exempt.

The House on Tuesday also passed a bill Tuesday to extend the pay freeze for federal workers through the remainder of fiscal 2013, a bill that now goes to the Senate. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who introduced the new bill, said it was aimed to counter President Obama’s executive order ending the pay freeze and initiating a 0.5 percent across-the-board pay increase on March 27, when the current continuing resolution expires. Not surprisingly, David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called Fitzpatrick’s bill a "cheap political ploy," according to Federal News Radio.

So the political wrangling continues and federal employees continue to work under intense uncertainty about their economic future. Brittany Ballenstedt at NextGov.com asserts that that uncertainty could scare off IT workers, who face a relatively more stable future in the private sector. The same could be said for workers in any of the government agencies, though IT workers potentially have more private-sector job opportunities.

Looming cuts have been hanging over federal government workers for some time now, and no doubt have played into the number of federal workers taking retirement. Governments at all levels have been among the employers most prolific in shedding workers over the past year or so.

The difficulty could come in wooing new, young workers to federal government jobs. In its corner, though, it still offers some unique opportunities that it should play up, including working for its space agency, intelligence community, in cybersecurity and other made-for-TV roles.



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