Tester: Sequestration, shutdown set back federal government

At hearing, Senator says federal workforce ‘should not be a punching bag’

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, today called for new initiatives to strengthen the federal workforce and an end to political gamesmanship that damages workers’ efficiency and morale.

“For some folks, sequestration and the shutdown were about scoring political points,” Tester said. “But for federal workers, sequestration and the shutdown kept them from getting to work and threatened their livelihoods. Federal workers didn’t cause our budget problems, and they shouldn’t be scapegoats.”

Tester made his remarks at a hearing of his Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce.

Representatives from government agencies, including Office of Personnel Management, and from federal workers’ unions, testified at today’s hearing.

“Sequestration has made it much more difficult for the federal workforce to do its job and complete its missions,” said Colleen Kelley, President of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). “If you want an efficient and effective government, don’t starve it to death.”

Tester pressed the panelists on plans to improve hiring practices so the government can better compete for skilled workers, mitigate the effects of the pending wave of retirements and adopt innovative ways of retaining and developing new leaders.

At today’s hearing, Tester worked to give a face to federal workers affected by sequestration and the shutdown. In his remarks, he noted that federal workers are VA nurses, Farm Service Agency officers and others that Americans deal with on a regular basis.

Video from Tester’s hearing, which was also attended by the panel’s Ranking Member Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is available online HERE.