Congressional Committee Chair Plans Broad Agenda Affecting Federal Workers

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, plans a broad and far-reaching committee agenda that includes measures to fire feds faster, pay some feds more and change the retirement system for new hires, of whom there would be fewer.

Maryland is home to some 300,000 federal workers and several agencies. That’s why it’s concerning to hear that Rep. Chaffetz wants agencies to consider locating more government operations outside the nation’s capital in an effort he dubbed “Divest DC,” a move that could be consequential for Maryland and its economy.

The Washington Post summarized some of Rep. Chaffetz’ plans in a recent article.

According to The Washington Post,

Federal employee retirement: Chaffetz wants retirement plans for new federal employees to move away from pensions, or “defined benefit” programs that rely on employer contributions, and lean more on employee funding through a system in which the government would make a “defined contribution.” Uncle Sam could even chip in more than he does to the 401 (k)-like personal investment program for federal staffers. Utah adopted this, he said, saving “billions and billions of dollars.” That may be good for Uncle Sam’s bottom line, but it probably means that individual workers would pay more out of pocket.

Hiring freeze: “We have good-quality federal workers,” [Chaffetz] said, “but we have too many of them.” Compared with the nation’s population, however, the size of the workforce has declined significantly since the 1960s. Chaffetz is considering legislation that would allow agencies to hire only one employee for every two or three who leave. But he said some agencies, such as the Secret Service, are understaffed.

Federal pay: This is one item of good news for a limited segment of federal employees. “There are some areas where we are probably going to have to pay people more money,” [Chaffetz] said, citing in-demand workers such as cyber experts in a very competitive market. Last year, Congress approved his legislation to provide back pay for previously uncompensated Secret Service overtime.

Divest D.C.: Chaffetz suggested that Congress could easily pass a measure pushing agencies to do a cost-benefit analysis comparing the costs of placing operations in the District with other locations. This, he added, could lead to a “more reflective government” and save money because the District is expensive, while helping local economies elsewhere.

“Everything in the federal government doesn’t need to reside in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Everything isn’t. About 85 percent of federal employees are outside the greater Washington area.

Read the full article for more information.