Dear President-Elect Trump,
Congratulations and Thank You! You became famous in part for your use of the phrase “You’re Fired!” and as you already well know, many of us who supported and voted for you would like to see considerable trimming of the federal payroll, making savings and yet increasing military capability. The realists amongst us also know the many obstacles you will face in achieving that trimming, so here are what we think may be some helpful suggestions:
1 Get an Act of Congress to make firing Federal employees for criminal acts, gross incompetence, incompetence and failing to pay Federal Taxes a quick and easy process, controlled by the respective heads of each organization. It is unconscionable for employees of the IRS to fail to pay their Federal Income Tax, so please ask/direct Congress to make it a Felony for a Federal employee to owe more than, say, $1,000 in taxes for more than 6 months and also make it impossible for convicted felons to get work as Federal employees. On firing incompetent employees, don’t get stuck in the weeds, that’s what you have Congress for, just let them know you want it done and let them and their ample staffs sort out the details.
2 Don’t try and fire many Federal employees yourself, save it for the most egregious cases, and ones which will have public backing (e.g. any Lois Lerner clones). But do get Congress to set manning levels and targets for each Department and Agency, then shift personnel numbers from EPA, Energy, Education and others to Defense (FBI and CIA too if you are feeling generous). You will need to ensure you have some executive flexibility in this arrangement.
3 Reduce overall numbers on target Departments and Agencies by placing hiring limits (not redundancies or “freezes” which are likely to generate adverse headlines, but moratoria) such as reducing new hires by 90%, 75%, 50% or 25% as appropriate on target Departments (again EPA, Energy, Education and you might want to add Interior, Commerce, Labor, HHS, HUD, Transportation, and possibly DHS (it is noticeable when traveling by air that the few airports with private security have much smaller delays in clearing security)). You might also consider “early out” options where pensions are assured, but only for certain early retirees?
4 In Defense, limit the percentage of non-uniformed (i.e. civilian) employees to a maximum of 50% of Regular Army strength (to include consultants and contractors). While you are doing so, please look at “rank equivalence” of GS and SES civilians as most in uniform do not feel that, for example, a GS-14 is the equivalent of a Colonel (O-5) – many former E-6 contractors get paid as GS-14. For sure, any WO-5 is easily as competent as any ES Level V, probably much more competent in terms of productivity! The civilians are outrageously overpaid and receive far better benefits compared with their uniformed military co-workers, without any of the hardships of deployments, field exercise, fitness training and standards, etc.
5 Please remove “Bonuses” for Federal employees. For truly exceptional cases, by all means give Secretaries a “bonus” pool, but limit it to say $500,000 per Department and then allow Secretaries to work out their own methods of dispensing it, rather than arcane “Regulations”.
6 Ask Congress to call such legislation the Federal Employment Ethics Act (FEEA) – who can object to trying to bring ethical standards to Federal employment?
7 Please insist that the Veterans Administration personnel consist of, say, 80% veterans!
Some other potential quick and easy savings:
1 The United Nations (UN): immediately stop all “voluntary” payments until a full accounting and Cost Benefit Analysis has been done. This should save about $5Bn per year, possibly much more (we just don’t know since reporting to and consolidation by CBO was stopped in 2012).
A. We would support moving the UN out of the USA, perhaps to somewhere like Dubai, and would be prepared to pay the (one time) moving expenses in order to rid Manhattan of the burden, and to free up valuable real estate to productive use.
2 Reduce our contributions to the World Bank to reflect our own needs. A reduction from 34.8% to 22% (2014 level reduced down to current UN level) would be a saving of over $1Bn per year, possibly a much as $10Bn per year.
3 Reduce our contributions and support to the International Monetary Fund. With our current National Debt and Deficit situation, we should not be bankrolling tyrannies and dictators abroad! Again there can be little doubt that some tough negotiations should result in significant annual savings.
A final comment: during the handover in January, please let it be known that you will have the White House Permanent Staff, the Secret Service and the US Marshals Service conducting an immediate audit of WH property for both quantity and quality, and will accept have zero tolerance for damage, vandalism or theft by departing political appointees (this concept could be applied across the Federal Administration?) President Obama has spoken well of making the transition as easy as possible, nonetheless “Trust, but Verify”!
Very best regards
The Red Hat Brigade