Federal hiring freeze impacting military job transitions


Photo: ABC News)
(Photo: ABC News)

By Ward Carroll

Among President Donald J. Trump’s first executive actions on his administration’s first full workday in the White House was a federal hiring freeze. According to the language of the action the president signed in front of a press contingent in the Oval Office it is a freeze on the hiring of federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch that applies to all executive departments and agencies regardless of the sources of their operational and programmatic funding, excepting military personnel.

“There’s been, frankly, a lack of respect for taxpayer dollars in this town for a long time,” White House press secretary (and Navy reserve PAO) Sean Spicer said at a news conference Monday. “I think what the president is showing through the hiring freeze, first and foremost, is that we’ve got to respect the American taxpayer.

“Some people are working two, three jobs just to get by. And to see money get wasted in Washington on a job that is duplicative is insulting to the hard work that they do to pay their taxes.”

The federal hiring freeze left some questions unanswered, however, specifically whether “excepting military personnel” included civilians employed by the Pentagon. Trump’s order says “no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances.” The memorandum also “does not revoke any appointment to Federal service made prior to January 22, 2017.”

The action also contains exceptions for “any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities” without defining exactly what sorts of jobs might qualify under that caveat.

The hiring freeze has generated some immediate concern across the military community, especially those in the process of transitioning from active duty to a civilian job. Thirty-one percent of the federal workforce are veterans, roughly 632,000 jobs, a function of the fact that they learn skills during their time in the military that are transferrable to civilian roles in the federal government. At first glance, the loss of these jobs is, by the numbers, a reduction in opportunity for those who served the nation.

“Veterans who have families to feed, who may be saving up for a home, have all been let down by Donald Trump,” said Peter Kauffmann, senior advisor to VoteVets.org. “This shouldn’t be shocking. Donald Trump lobbied New York to kick disabled veterans, working as vendors, out from in front of Trump Tower. He has always been hostile to working veterans.”

Veterans groups have also expressed concern about what the hiring freeze does to the VA.

“What we still do not know if whether the Department of Veterans Affairs is subject to this hiring and pay freeze,” Kauffmann said. “It would be the ultimate insult to our men and women who serve to deny them the additional doctors, nurses, therapists, and administrators that are sorely needed at the VA. If this executive order leads to preventable deaths, that will be on Donald Trump’s hands and [VoteVets.org] will hold him personally accountable.”

A consequence of the Trump hiring freeze is that it potentially undoes the Veterans Employment Initiative signed by President Barack Obama in 2009 that instructed government agencies to identify and hire qualified veterans. At this writing, no jobs are open to veterans at affected agencies unless hiring authorities can prove they constitute roles fundamental to national security or public safety.

Ward Carroll is the president of Military One Click. He can be reached at ward@militaryoneclick.com.

23 Comments

  1. I would argue that the 180 cooling off period between separation/retirement and DoD Civilian employment is more damaging than the hiring freeze. Who can afford to wait six months for a government job?

  2. I just started terminal leave today. Navy vet with 20+ years. I applied to two federal jobs with the DOD in late December that are still vacant. I have an interview scheduled next Tuesday. If they can’t hire me do to this freeze, I won’t be a happy camper. The 180 day thing, from my understanding, is waiverable; It’s just not automatic anymore.

  3. Wow, I thought President Trump was supposed to be for the people, but it damn sure doesn’t look like it to me. I’m a Veteran that just retired and making my transition into the civilian workforce. Does this hiring freeze affects the government jobs I just applied for. I suppose to have a interview on Friday for a job.

    1. So, freezing the hiring for govt jobs, so that they can examine how and where to make cuts, means he hates Vets? He said this coming. Military Bearing and Values already gone huh? Smh
      Where was your self centered attitude when Congress failed to pass a budget for 8 yrs? Where was all this when the govt shut down & Soldiers weren’t getting paid?

    2. Funny, I don’t remember when soldiers didn’t get paid . . . considering I never missed a pay check. Since Jamil just retired, I’m not sure he’s the right guy to lecture about the effects of continuing resolutions and sequestration . . . he probably lived them, maybe even with rifle in hand in a far away place.

      My point wasn’t to say evaluation/change wasn’t necessary or that anyone hates vets, simply to point out that it just got a helluva lot harder for retirees to transition to military jobs. That affects veterans, but could also leave a void in hiring highly qualified potential employees.

    3. When did the nonpayment to the military happen? I have been around for 20+ years and have always gotten paid. Bottom line this first is a “I said it so I am going to do it”. No thought, no real strategy or nothing. Very disappointed. I expected better however being the business man that he is I should have known better

  4. I didn’t hear all this when the govt shut down, numerous times, and soldiers didn’t get paid. Didn’t hear this when the govt shut down was a direct result of No Budget. (No budget for 8yrs mind you)
    He’s trying to examine how many jobs are redundant, where cuts can and should be made….instead of saying, Well. It sucks but we’ve got to get all our spending under control…..y’all are bitching like kids. Where’s your Military Bearing? Why is that job interview Fri all you think you’re qualified for? Govt jobs are cushy, for now. How about y’all quit whining and realize that this isn’t about kicking Vets in the teeth. Tax payers do include non vets. Their money shouldn’t be wasted either. I’m saddened to see ppl, who are generally really smart, acting like they just don’t get it. Smh. No, you just don’t like it.

    1. What about behavioral health care? I am an Army psychologist transitioning form active duty to a GS position at a VERY busy and understaffed Army behavioral health clinic. I was told my position is on hold now. The clinic is working out a plan to send Soldiers into the community (most don’t want to go. They want to stay at the MTF where they feel safe, understood, etc.)–paid for by the Army/Tricare and costing MORE money. Negative impact on veterans/service members/dependents and the other employees in the clinic who are seeing double patient load. Trump needs find a better, smarter, way to “examine how and where to make cuts.”

    2. So why don’t the start by cutting government where it counts like DC. That’s where it’s fish at. Not in the warehouse with no AC, only the southern dry heat coming through the bay doors. These civilian workers help supply the whole USMC on an already low budget. While the real cush jobs continue get pay raises and did I mention no matter what happens continue to get paid.

  5. Many vets gave up their well-paying jobs to defend this country. We owe them – big time! Some have returned and the jobs they did were done away with. I worked at a Community College and met many vets who had come back to school to be schooled in a different field. And it was not easy for them. Not all vets are applying for govt. jobs. But, those that do want to work in the govt should be considered first. If they are not qualified, don’t hire.

  6. I work at Sierra Army Depot as a civilian an they r saying I will lose my job april 3rd when my roll over date is here I have a 4 year contract but have to b rolled over every year up to 4 years an I think this is wrong will I lose my job can any one explain this to me my Depot will lose 900 people by the end of 90 days HELP

  7. I served in the military for 27 years. I put in for retirement last April just so I could apply for a GS position that I knew was coming open and I was well qualified for. I was offered a TJO for that position in on Dec 22nd, President Obama signed the 2017 NDAA on Dec 23rd requiring me to get a 180 day waiver (Actual retirement date was 1 JAN 17), while waiting for the waiver President Trump initiated the federal hiring freeze so here I sit. The hiring agency says they’re trying to get further guidance but it’s looking like I’ll be waiting until the hiring freeze is over before I even find out if the job is still available. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but I may have to start looking for work elsewhere. By hiring me the government would’ve saved over $150K and a years worth of time that it’ll take to hire and train someone else… doesn’t sound like a wise management of taxpayers dollars to me.

    1. I am in the same position and I agree. This is just an off the cuff thing “Look at me I’m the president”.

    2. Do you have a link to the waiver or who is the proponent for waiver approval? I retire Aug 1st.

    3. JES- How long did it take for your waiver to get approved? Now that th freeze is over things are moving along again. I received a “Tentative” offer pending approval of the waiver. I’m in the same boat. Any info is helpful.

  8. It just sounds like right now it’s whatever goes and do it now without really thinking about it. I agree with Jes that money could be saved by hiring more vets instead of completely training new people off the street.

  9. I will be on Terminal Leave on 2 July. I have been applying for Federal Jobs for the last three months. I have seven referrals currently. I am hoping that the jobs I have applied for will approve an 180-day waiver? I have spoken to a few of the local HR offices, and they are in fact processing waivers for some applicants. Anyone else has similar/type situation?

Comments are closed.