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House members ask DOD to lift civilian workforce cap

More than 100 House members signed a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to back off the ongoing downsizing of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce to fiscal 2010 levels.

More than 100 House members signed a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to back off the ongoing downsizing of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce to fiscal 2010 levels.

The March 26 letter, sent by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and co-signed by 130 other House members, criticized department’s management of its workforce, in particular the workforce cap instituted in a departmental efficiency initiative launched by Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, who stepped down from the post last year.

According to the lawmakers, the initiative is increasing reliance on private contractors.

“These gimmicks are causing mass layoffs of civilian employees, but they aren’t actually saving any money,” Hinchey said in a press statement. “Because of the arbitrary standards set by the Pentagon, civilian employees are being fired, and private contractors that charge more for the exact same service and are less accountable to the public are being hired.”

Among other measures, the letter also urged the department to comply with the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which caps spending on service contracts at fiscal 2010 levels.

“If the Department insists on capping the civilian workforce at FY 2010 levels, a similar cap should be applied to the service contract spending levels,” the letter stated.

John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, applauded the letter

“This ill-conceived cap has forced managers to cut tens of thousands of federal jobs, while the much larger and more expensive contractor workforce continues to grow unchecked,” Gage said in a statement. “It’s long past time that we restore some balance and fairness to how the entire workforce is managed and treated. I hope Secretary Panetta takes immediate action to comply with these recommendations.”

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