President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking a federal hiring freeze just three days into his administration to shrink the federal government through attrition.
Each year on average, of approximately 2.8 million federal employees, about 75,000 workers quit, 10,000 are fired, 65,000 retire and 55,000 leave because their appointments expire, according to The Washington Post.
The hiring freeze is expected to affect local economies around the country, but exempts military personnel, which Trump said he would increase significantly over the next several years. The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security would also be exempt from the freeze.
The president’s order also forbids the use of independent contractors as a way to bypass the hiring freeze.
Although Trump has promised to trim the federal workforce and scrap job protections for civil servants as part of draining the “swamp” of a bloated federal bureaucracy, federal unions have condemned the move as Draconian, resulting in a number of unintended consequences.
In a telephone interview, Canyon Dam resident Kathy Holden said she is concerned that her seasonal work with the U.S. Forest Service may be affected by the hiring freeze, adding that she had as yet not heard from her supervisor.
Holden recalled how close the Chips Fire came to her house in 2012, and worries that without an adequate fire fighting force, many people may find their properties and lives in serious jeopardy this coming fire season.
She said that even though the National Park Service, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Interior, and the Forest Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, has in its budgets monies to potentially hire additional workers, they are not permitted to do so until President Trump receives confirmation of those agency’s nominees and exceptions are made.
Currently both major political parties are at loggerheads over some of the president’s appointments. Until the logjam ends, certain federal agencies remain limited in how expenditures would be budgeted by their respective departments.
Multiple news outlets reported that President Trump named Sonny Perdue on Jan. 19 as his choice for the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who would succeed Tom Vilsack, who left Jan. 13.
As head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Perdue would oversee about 100,000 employees and about $140 billion across various programs. The USDA secretary is set to be the last cabinet post to be filled.
Fortunately, Dave Hays, forest supervisor for the Lassen National Forest, said the Forest Service was recently told that it “received an exemption from the hiring freeze to fill seasonal firefighting positions at the departmental level for the upcoming fire season,” adding that the agency is now moving forward with hiring temporary firefighters.
Hays noted that they had already received applications before the freeze was announced and they will be processed soon.
In addition to seasonal firefighters, the Trump administration has also released federal land management agencies to hire more park rangers to protect national forests, parks, tribal lands and wildlife refuges during the summer influx of visitors.
All federal jobs are posted at usajobs.gov.