Discretionary Spending

Multiple Budget Functions

Reduce the Size of the Federal Workforce Through Attrition

CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues, as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. This option appears in one of those publications. The options are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO.

Billions of dollars 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2015-2019 2015-2024
Change in Spending                        
  Budget authority 0 -1.2 -3.5 -5.1 -5.9 -6.3 -6.6 -6.8 -7.0 -7.3 -15.6 -49.7
  Outlays 0 -1.1 -3.4 -5.0 -5.9 -6.3 -6.6 -6.8 -7.0 -7.3 -15.4 -49.4

Note: This option would take effect in October 2015. Estimates are relative to CBO’s August 2014 baseline projections. About one-fifth of the savings would be reductions in intragovernmental payments and thus would not reduce the deficit.

In fiscal year 2013, the federal government employed about 2.1 million civilian workers, excluding Postal Service employees. The largest costs the federal government incurred for those employees were for salaries, health insurance, and pension benefits.

This option would reduce the number of federal civilian employees at certain agencies by 10 percent by allowing those agencies to hire no more than one employee for every three workers who left. The President would be allowed to exempt an agency under certain conditions. About two-thirds of the federal civilian workforce would be exempt, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, thus limiting the workforce reduction to about 70,000 employees. (Agencies would not be allowed to hire contractors to offset the reduction in the federal workforce.)