Dispelling Popular Lies and Myths about the Federal Workforce
The Federal workforce has not grown since 1947 and is its smallest ever per capita.
In raw numbers, the Federal civilian workforce is the same size now (approximately 2 million) as it was in 1952 after the WWII downsizing from 2.6 million employees. Per capita, Federal employees are at the lowest number ever (.597%) when compared to the population of the U.S. from a record high in the late 1940s (1.85%). By contrast, the contactor workforce has expanded to more than 4 million workers.
Nearly 40% of all discretionary tax dollars now goes to private entities totaling more than $600 billion annually.
Per CBO, the entire Federal workforce costs less than a third of contract costs. Plus, Federal employees pay their taxes, so Federal wages go back to the Treasury instead of corporate coffers.
10,000 Federal employees are terminated for cause each year.
A common falsehood often told by some on Capitol Hill is that Federal employees are “impossible” to fire.
Each year, approximately 10,000 Federal employees are terminated for cause (conduct or poor
performance)ii. This equates to approximately 40 involuntary terminations for cause per workday.
The Federal employee termination rate for cause is the same as the private sector.
The involuntary separations (terminations) rate in the private sector is 1% annuallyiii. Of that 1%, about onethird are terminations for cause and two-thirds are layoffsiv. This means that the termination rate for cause in the private sector is .3%. The Federal government’s termination rate for cause is also .3%.v
Detractors claim that Merit System Principles hinder the firing of poor performers. They claim Federal unions do the same.
Clearly this is false. Merit System Principles buttress accountability throughout the government by deterring political overreach, corruption, poor management, and unfair practices.
The truth behind the MSPB and the FLRA, and the foolish effort to eliminate both.
Federal employees prevail only 18% of the time at the MSPB and only 3% of the time upon appeal to the full board. Management prevails 60% of the time against unions at the FLRA. Some in Congress argue these agencies favor employees. That claim is a lie. They block funding and qualified nominees to weaken these agencies to limit Federal case law that protects the Executive Branch from full political control and corruption (e.g., political bias, Schedule F “loyalty” employment, the Spoils system, etc.).
Why the war by some in Congress against Federal employee unions?
Federal employees do not have to pay union dues, they cannot strike or bargain for pay or benefits, they
put their duty before politics, their personal politics extend to both parties, most Federal unions get
along with management, …so why the war on Federal unions from some in Congress? Federal union
members serve as the eyes and ears within government providing transparency while enforcing
accountability. For those who wish to corrupt government only to treat it like a political prize to be won
to serve an autocratic victor, Federal unions are a vibrant pro-Democracy force that they need gone.
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