Civil service reforms resurface in Trump’s 2020 budget proposal

President Trump’s (R) 2020 budget proposal includes provisions that would impact the structure and internal procedures of the federal civil service.
A selection of the provisions was previously featured in Trump’s three civil service executive orders (E.O. 13837, E.O. 13836, and E.O. 13839) issued in May 2018. These include proposals aimed at removing poor-performing federal employees and streamlining collective bargaining procedures. A federal district judge struck down the bulk of the executive orders in August 2018 and an appeal is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Additional civil service provisions featured in Trump’s 2020 budget proposal include:
  • Establishing new pay systems for special occupations.
  • Increasing temporary hiring to employ more highly qualified experts.
  • Eliminating certain retirement pensions in favor of contributions to the government’s Thrift Savings Plan.
  • Creating an industry exchange to allow nonprofit employees and academics to temporarily serve on federal projects.
  • Increasing the number of federal interns, which dropped from 35,000 in 2010 to 4,000 in 2018.
  • Re-skilling federal employees who currently serve in transactional positions that can be automated.
Congress must reconcile and approve a set of appropriations bills in order for the president to sign the budget into law.
The federal civil service is made up of all unelected “positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services,” according to the United States Code. The civil service is subdivided into the competitive service, the excepted service, and the Senior Executive Service.
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