Firing federal workers isn’t as easy as Trump makes it seem in his budget

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Keep dreaming, Donnie:

Under President Trump’s budget proposal, federal employees at many agencies may need to acquaint themselves with a lately dormant but still much-feared term: Reduction in Force.

If Trump’s budget is enacted into law, it would hike defense spending by $54 billion — and pay for it with an equal cut in domestic spending at other federal agencies. Trump has said that reducing the size of the federal workforce — better known by its acronym, RIF — is a top priority.

It may not be as easy as Trump would like.

Laying off federal workers requires going through a formal process that can be lengthy, expensive and disruptive to the workplace, experts say. And various legal and union rights may come into play, as they do for the similarly complex process of firing a federal worker for misconduct.

Jeffrey Neal, former personnel chief at the Department of Homeland Security and now a senior vice president at ICF International, said few agencies know how to oversee the RIF process. “They’re going to find fairly quickly that it’s a lot harder to cut than it seems like it would be,” Neal said.

RIFs have not been used widely for decades. It is a complex process that catalogues and ranks employees based on the work they do and where, their employment status, veteran status, length of service and performance ratings.

Employees in eliminated jobs in some cases may be able to displace lower-ranked employees while keeping their higher pay rates temporarily — meaning the projected savings don’t always materialize.

And there are job placement rights, appeal rights and severance pay entitlements for those ultimately let go. In some cases, unions are able to bargain on behalf of their members.

You can read the rest at the Washington Post.

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