“The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be forced to delay or halt vital scientific projects” by cutting research grants, according to the fact sheet. “Since each research award supports up to seven research positions, several thousand personnel could lose their jobs.” Nearly 1,000 fewer National Science Foundation research grants and awards would lead to 12,000 scientists and students curtailing scientific research, the White House estimated.
In the hopes of reducing the impact of a sequester on federal workers, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) on Monday released a paper on savings that could be found by reducing government service contracts.
The author, Charles Tiefer, a University of Baltimore Law School professor, argues that from 70 percent to 90 percent of the sequester savings realized from cutting federal employees instead could come from reductions in service contract spending. He was paid by AFGE, which said the paper’s conclusions were Tiefer’s alone.
“This brief memorandum is intended to demystify the procurement process,” Tiefer wrote, “so that managers can look to their service contractors for savings as surely as they are already looking at their federal employees for savings.”
Getting up to 90 percent of needed savings from contractors would “cripple the government and devastate the economy,” said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, which represents contractors.
“[I]t is no wiser to take savings exclusively from the federal workforce,” he added, “than it is to take the savings exclusively from contractors.”
In the long run — short term, too — the nation “will not be well served if we continue to look to the workforce for savings,” said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association. She is the one who declared the state of the workforce “precarious.”
“Elected officials and political appointees come and go,” she added. “But we expect — and rely on — the career federal workforce with its experience, skills and institutional memory to keep government functioning well every day.”
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.