By Cait Flynn
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday, Jan. 23, that initiates an immediate federal hiring freeze, fulfilling a promise he made, according to his “Contract with the American Voter” on his website.
The memorandum prohibits the filling of all open federal positions as well as the creation of any new positions, with the exception of military personnel.
The directive also provides an exception to any position that is necessary for national security or public safety, according to Washington Post.
A hiring freeze is not an unprecedented measure for curbing federal spending, as both former President Jimmy Carter, a democrat, and former President Ronald Reagan, a republican, instituted similar freezes when they took office, according to both The New York Times and Washington Post.
Carter established a hiring practice in which the federal government could only fill a position for every two workers that were let go, according to The New York Times.
Reagan went a step further by enacting a total freeze, similar to Trump’s, just hours after his inauguration, according to Washington Post .
Hours after the directive was signed, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the order as an effort to apply greater care to America’s tax money.
“What the president’s showing through the hiring freeze, first and foremost today, is that we’ve got to respect the American taxpayer,” Spicer said, according to The New York Times.
Spicer further defended the freeze by describing the strain on U.S. taxpayers.
“Some people are working two, three jobs just to get by. And to see money get wasted in Washington on a job that is duplicative is insulting to the hard work that they do to pay their taxes,” Spicer saif, according to The New York Times.
Similar hiring freezes in the past have resulted in an increase in government spending as opposed to its objective aims to save taxpayer money.
More than 85 percent of all federal employees are outside of the beltway, leaving smaller and rural towns with vacancies, Washington Post reported.
A 1982 report by the Government Accountability Office showed that in order to maintain operations, many government agencies required contracted workers, which are more expensive than federal employees, according to Washington Post.
Although the president’s order forbids contracted workers, this halt in hiring practices leaves many government agencies frozen in already precarious operations.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, for instance, currently has 45,000 openings and is not exempt from the president’s memorandum, according to NPR.
Both the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Synder, as well as Trump’s own nominee for the position, David Shulkin, disagree with the freeze, according to NPR.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public safety, including front-line caregivers,” Snyder said in a statement, reported by NPR .
The necessity for a well-staffed Department of Veterans Affairs is growing with the assured repeal of the Affordable Care Act by the Trump administration, NBC reported.
A hiring freeze is likely to impact minority communities, as well. Black workers currently account for 18 percent of the federal workforce, whereas they account for 13 percent of the population, according to Washington Post.
Minority communities have historically benefitted from federal hiring practices since former President John F. Kennedy aimed to depict the federal government as a model of fair hiring practices. Previous freezes have disproportionately affected those communities, Washington Post reported.
The impediment to federal hiring is set to end once Trump’s budget director proposes a long-term solution to federal inefficiency, according to The New York Times.