Sunday, September 7, 2008

How to reduce the size of the federal government

By many standards, the modern US government can be considered due for a trim. Shrinking the budget deficiet requires doing less and less people are needed for that. The complexity lies in shrinking the government by eliminating the less effective participants, instead of waiting for the upper echelon to retire or younger people to quit. The federal workforce has come under the axe several times before, but none of the axings where particularly effective due these factors. The failings of these policies stem from the methods managers used to achieve them. By mandating gross reductions in force without figuring out how to cut deadwood, Congress implicity encourages managers to make defensible cuts based on seniority. Legislating reductions across all grade levels in a series of 1% annual cuts over 10 years would be the best way to effectively reduce the size of the bureacracy and increasing its effectiveness.

The annual reduction policy is the best choice for several reasons. It is phased in over time, allowing managers to make strategic decisions about where the axe falls. It addresses the seniority versus merit bias in the federal hiring system. Mandating a series of cuts encourages the existing workforce to work harder to ensure job security. Finally, it achieves a %9.5 reduction in the workforce. According to the EPA's Capital Planing and Improvement Controls, government workers cost an average of $133k per year. With a federal civilian workforce of 1.2 million, that reduction translates to $15 billion.

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