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Report warns that weakening federal workforce puts the nation at risk

Federal researchers are concerned with the federal government’s ability to effectively combat a major crisis because of a “weakening” federal workforce and its organizational structures.

A January study by the Senior Executives Association, titled, “Are Declines in U.S. Federal Workforce Capabilities Putting Our Government at Risk of Failing?” identified several themes that are impacting the federal government’s capabilities, including low morale, vacancies, hiring and retention deficiencies; all of which the researchers say is putting the nation and risk.

The researchers examined federal workforce trends given in about several dozen potential scenarios, ranging events that will certainly occur within the next year--such as natural disaster-- to other scenarios that are highly plausible.

According to the report: “As researchers our intent is not to make a case for a larger U.S. federal government. What we are concerned with are the capabilities of our nation’s public service to respond effectively to crises. This may be achieved by addressing concerns unrelated to size, including remedying decreasing morale, addressing the challenges created by increasing politicization on what should be non-partisan activities, and updating legacy processes to be more effective in the digital era.”

The report noted that no major civil service rules for recruiting, hiring and retention of the Federal workforce in 40 years, which predates the internet.

“Looking at these staffing dynamics across agencies, the prospects are even bleaker,” the report states, adding,

“Government contractors, widely used to plug the holes in our government, can only take up so much of the slack.”

The report calls for the federal government to modernize the civil service system in order to address issue.

“As  a  whole, this  study  seeks to contribute to a badly needed national conversation about what  Americans think their government should have the capacity to do, especially in the face of severe  stresses to our nation and  collective future,” according to a report.

Read the full report here.

Reader comments

Thu, Mar 14, 2019 20-Year Fed

Weakened? True! Why? Because you have way too many feds NOT working. For years, they sit & do nothing all day - it's like the last comment states: they "suck off the government". Naturally, that will weaken any institution, company, or government!!

Wed, Mar 13, 2019 Lackland AFB.

As minimum wage increase it makes my meager GS09 step 6 wage weaker. Inflation is eating away at my $59031.00 salary in a USAF 0809 series that has no growth potential beyond GS09. No one seems to care! USACE 0809 series have positions up to GS12. OPM is too stuck on the process of GS09 to GS11 to GS12. I do the exact same job as a GS12 and more. This is broken system. Certain others have same expiences in other job series.

Wed, Mar 13, 2019

You have a lot of good employees and a fair amount of bad ones. It all comes down to motivation. The government system is not set up to motivate good or poor performers. It assumes that those employees take their jobs to serve the country. I suspect that used to work well but not now. The government is no longer hiring the best and brightest. They get some by default but not by design. More and more will leave unless reforms are made. Management has become a position you can only achieve if you tell people what they want to hear. If you tell an unpopular truth you are not a team player.

Wed, Mar 13, 2019

"Weakened Federal Workforce"? I was off work for more than a month doing absolutely nothing and then spent the next two months trying to recover and catch up from the extreme waste and chaos this situation caused. The comments I have seen on this post thus far indicate lazy self-serving supervisors and inept politicians. I believe lazy self-serving lower grade employees also play a role. So do lazy self-serving people who don't work at all and just suck off the government. This is a moral issue and it is country wide.

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 Sergio CA

There is another outfit in SSA in CA. Also, within the organization at a subcomponent OHO of SSA. Unreliable, lazy management that wouldn't think twice of taking credit for others completed tasks and then drop the blame on you if it is not done right.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
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