The Trump administration is breathing new life into the age-old question about the size of the federal workforce, as agencies prepare to reorganize, shift resources and cut personnel in the name of efficiency.
The question came up on day one, when President Donald Trump introduced a temporary hiring freeze to “counter the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years,” as the new administration described it in January.
But according to Paul Light, a public policy professor at New York University, and a special adviser to the chairman of the Volcker Alliance, the number of federal employees has remained more or less the same over the past several decades. Rather, it’s the number of contractors and grant employees supporting government work that’s trended upward over the years.
About 2 million federal employees, 3.7 million contractors, nearly 1.6 million grant employees, 1.3 million active-duty military members and 492,000 postal workers all make up the “blended federal workforce,” Light said in his latest reporton the topic.