April 1, 2016
Effective March 20, the Pentagon has implemented a civilian hiring freeze that affects all vacant permanent civilian positions for which no tentative employment offer had been presented as of March 19.
The freeze is part of a broader effort to reduce the number of Pentagon staff. In 2013, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memo calling for a 20 percent reduction in Pentagon staff. Later instructions from senior DoD leaders raised the required reduction to 25 percent.
The move comes amid reports the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) increased by 20 percent over the last decade or so. The rapid growth in personnel was due to increased mission responsibilities, reliance on federal employees instead of contractors, and staff reorganizations.
Unsurprisingly, requirements driven by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a primary driver of personnel growth. As the wars wind down, lawmakers are looking to cut costs.
A hiring freeze at the Pentagon may end up hurting veterans. According to the Office of Personnel Management, 46 percent of DoD employees are veterans.
“Hiring freezes are usually double-edged swords,” said Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF (Ret), MOAA's Director of Government Relations. “DoD saves some salary funds, but the work of the absent employees usually still has to be done, so the remaining military and civilian employees have to pick up the slack.”