Magazine article Insight on the News

Waste & Abuse

Magazine article Insight on the News

Waste & Abuse

Article excerpt

The Budget's Bureaucratic Barometer

They boast that "the era of big government is over" and advertise the current federal workforce as the smallest since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. However, the latest budget from the Clinton gang projects an overall increase in the number of full-time federal employees for 2001, while the largest downsizing still falls on the Pentagon, which would see a 5.2 percent decrease.

Fifteen of 20 major federal agencies will see employee increases, according to Clinton's plan, with the total number of nondefense federal workers rising nearly 2 percent through fiscal 2001. A review of the numbers offers a good Rorschach test of where the administration's head is as it prepares, at long last, to turn out the lights. While the Pentagon predictably suffers the deepest projected cuts, the Treasury Department will enjoy a 4.1 percent increase in its workforce, a growth spurt some attribute to reorganization and reform efforts at the new, improved IRS. Justice will get a hefty 8.4 percent staff increase, with more than 10,000 new staff (yes, many of them lawyers) coming aboard.

Other departmental "winners" according to the budget's "bureaucrat barometer" are Education (with a 4 percent projected growth in staff), Agriculture (with a 5.2 percent increase), Housing and Urban Development (at 6 percent), Health and Human Services (at 7.3 percent) and Labor (with a 6.7 percent boost). More-modest strains of staff infection also are projected for the Social Security Administration (0.2 percent) and the departments of the Interior (3.7 percent), State (2.7 percent), Transportation (2.2 percent) and Energy (1 percent). Nominal staff reductions are likely at the Environmental Protection Agency (down 0.6 percent) and Veterans' Affairs (down 1 percent).

One agency that will suffer most, according to the budget proposal, is Commerce, projected to undergo a nearly 10 percent reduction in force during the next several years. Shed no tears for the relatively few federal workers shown the door, however; the administration has asked for, and undoubtedly will receive, cash-buyout authority to help facilitate the thinning of the herd -- equipping bygone bureaucrats with golden parachutes, courtesy of the taxpayers, that will soften their landing in the consulting racket.

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