Sens. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) have called on the Government Accountability Office to examine the implementation of a presidential memorandum that imposed a hiring freeze on federal civilian employees.
Both senators told GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro in a joint letter published Tuesday the hiring freeze could increase government spending and have little impact on cost savings or the size of the federal workforce.
GAO’s audit of hiring freezes during the Carter and Reagan administrations showed that agencies used contractors to address staffing shortages despite being prohibited to do so, Peters and Heitkamp noted.
The lawmakers added previous GAO reports revealed that contracting is more expensive than using agency personnel to perform the same work.
Peters and Heitkamp asked the agency to study the effect of the freeze on the federal workforce size and cost savings; impact on agencies’ budget, programs, customer service, workload and employment trends; and whether work formerly done by federal employees is or is likely to be performed by contractors.
GAO was also asked to review guidance and communication from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management to agencies throughout the hiring freeze as well as lessons learned from current and previous freezes.