President’s Proposed Budget Calls for Agency Cuts, Reorganization

President Trump has put forward his proposed budget for FY2020. While presidential budget proposals rarely mirror the actual appropriations legislation passed through Congress, they do predict where spending battles will be and the president’s policy agenda for the next year. For FY2020, the president proposed deep cuts to federal employee benefits and a reorganization of the Office of Personnel Management.

In the $4.75 trillion budget plan entitled “A Budget for a Better America”, President Trump would eliminate cost-of-living adjustments for federal employees who started working under the Federal Employees Retirement System and reduce cost-of-living adjustments for employees under the Civil Service Retirement System by 0.5 percent.

The budget would also eliminate the Special Retirement Supplement, which provides funds for those employees who retire before age 62.

According to Jessie Bur of Federal Times, this proposed change is especially relevant for federal law enforcement officers, who are often required to retire before 62 and who are able to collect benefits at that time under the Special Retirement Supplement.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) praised the Trump administration for increasing funds for the hiring of border patrol agents and secret service agents, but criticized the benefit cuts.

FLEOA President Nathan Catura said in a statement, “Following the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, proposing further spending cuts to agencies sends an out of touch message from the White House. Particularly the proposed cuts to federal retirement plans. After missing two paychecks, federal employees, such as the many federal law enforcement agents left working without pay, deserve more than the budget proposal the President has offered.”

The budget proposal also mentions that the White House is moving forward with a plan to reorganize the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM is the leading human resource center for many areas of the civilian federal workforce.

This plan was first introduced in June 2018 when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed a merger between OPM and the General Services Administration.

The Senior Executives Association, a group representing senior executives in the federal government, supported the reorganization plan when it was announced in June. However, the group cautioned in a statement on the budget proposal that “simply moving boxes on an org chart and superior technology are no saviors for inadequate planning” and urged the White House to meet with stakeholders to ensure the plan is executed in an orderly, effective, and people-focused way.

While this proposal acts as a strong indicator of the president’s priorities for the year, Senator James Lankford reminded in his annual Federal Fumbles report that the president’s document is usually “worthless” since Congress ultimately holds the power of the purse and drafts its own appropriations legislation.

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