From the office of Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urging him to manage the federal workforce based on cost and workload, not arbitrary head counts. She was joined in the letter by her Senate colleagues Tom Harkin (D-Ia.), Claire McCaskill, (D-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The Department of Defense (DOD) currently plans to freeze the number of federal employees at FY 2010 levels. This would mean new work must be performed by service contractors, even if the work is “inherently governmental.” This is in direct opposition to a law passed by Congress restricting the DOD’s ability to put a head count on the size of the work force.
“Placing an arbitrary headcount on the number of federal employees at the DOD is not the way to make the department run more efficiently,” Senator Mikulski said. “Our federal employees are on the front lines every day, working hard for America. These hardworking men and women deserve to be treated fairly and should not be prevented from performing essential DOD functions because of an arbitrary headcount. I will keep fighting for a fair deal for federal workers and the best deal for the taxpayer’s money.”
“I believe we can and must find greater efficiencies in the Pentagon, and I hope Secretary Panetta will continue that effort,” said Senator McCaskill. “That said, we need to be smart about how we do it by looking at places like service contracts and poor acquisitions practices – not doing it arbitrarily on the backs of federal employees who are performing core governmental functions.”
“I am very concerned that the proposed Department of Defense employee freeze will negatively impact the essential work being done to keep our country safe,” said Senator Murray. “It would be very problematic if this employee freeze resulted in even more government work being outsourced to contractors.”
“Government staffing decisions should be based on needs and priorities, not bean counting,” Senator Brown said. “With ever tightening budgets, DoD, like the rest of the government, needs to be run as efficiently as possible. Arbitrary headcounts serve no one.”
The full text of the letter follows:
July 7, 2011
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
U.S. Department of Defense
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Panetta,
We strongly support efforts to make the Department of Defense more efficient in the recently announced “Efficiency Initiative”. But we are concerned that a hiring freeze on a portion of the department’s workforce is not an effective workforce management plan and not an effective cost saving measure.
The department’s workforce must be managed by budgets and workloads, not arbitrary constraints. Freezing the size of the department’s civilian workforce at FY10 levels without any comparable limitations on contractors does not guarantee any cost savings. However, this freeze would guarantee that new work and expansions to the existing workload must be performed by service contractors – even if this work is “inherently governmental”.
Ensuring that essential department functions are performed by federal employees must be a part of the department’s workforce management plan under any budget conditions. Certain federal jobs – like reviewing contracts, making budgets and writing policies – are simply too important to agencies’ missions to ever be contracted-out.
Further, Congress has instructed the department to make sure that “inherently governmental” work is performed by federal employees, directed the department to manage its civilian personnel based on “the workload required to carry out the functions and activities of the department” and prohibited the department from setting arbitrary head counts for its civilian workforce.
We urge the department to manage its workforce on the basis of cost instead of arbitrary constraints to the size of the civilian workforce, to ensure that “inherently governmental” functions are performed by civilian personnel, and make certain that the department is in compliance with existing sourcing laws.
We respectfully request a prompt reply and look forward to working with you on these issues.