President Trump is correct when he says the federal government must be more responsive to the needs of the American people. Unfortunately, his directive Monday to freeze federal hiring will have the opposite effect of what is intended.
It makes no sense to freeze a problem in place rather than fix it. Although the president's order to downsize the federal workforce through attrition has some exceptions, it is unclear exactly how it will be interpreted and applied. The order will not improve government performance, but could bar the door to hiring employees who are needed to prevent cyberattacks on federal computer systems, ensure the safety of our food supply and air quality, and provide important services to small businesses, farmers, seniors, veterans and students.
If our new president examined previous federal hiring freezes, he would find they hampered, not helped, government effectiveness. The Government Accountability Office, for example, reported that the hiring freezes imposed by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan "disrupted agency operations and, in some cases, increased the cost to the government" because they "ignored individual agencies' missions, workload, and staffing requirements."
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