In continuing analysis of the impact of the congressional super committee's failure to reach a deficit reduction deal, Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief of Government Executive magazine, talks with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey about what the lack of consensus could mean for federal agencies in the Washington area, and the employees who staff them.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Gauging the impacts of super committee stalemate on federal employees: "If the cuts go into effect, it's likely to mean deep reductions in spending by federal agencies, which is likely to mean cuts in the workforce, either in the form of reductions in force or it could be temporary furloughs."
Predicting the likelihood of a deal between now and 2013 when automatic, across the board sequestered cuts go into effect: "I think they're going to try very hard, because the scenario of sequestration isn't appealing to anybody, especially on the defense side with $600 billion in cuts looming there," he says.
On whether there is some sense of a relief on the part of employees that the super committee didn't settle on even deeper cuts than the $1.2 trillion: "In a sense yes … if they had been able to reach a deal, it almost certainly that deal would have included cuts to retirement benefits to employees and an extension of the current federal pay freeze," says Shoop.
On who's opposing the cuts to federal employee benefits: "Very few people at this point … even on the Hill, their traditional supporters have understood that this is going to be apart of any deal that eventually gets made."
On the current morale of federal workers: "It's not doing well right now," he says. "There's a great deal of anger at the lack of support for them, and for the lack of action on the part of Congress."
Looking at subsequent effects on federal agency hiring: "We're seeing more and more federal agencies offer buyouts to some of their employees in an effort to reduce their workforces in advance of cuts that might be made," Shoop says. "I think the smart agencies are trying to look at this and hoping that they can shape their own workforces in a way they won't be able to if they have to do deep and immediate cuts in the form of reductions in force."