The new lid on federal jobs President Carter will outline around Feb. 18 is expected to look very much like the government employment growth package recommended earlier in the Ford Administration budget.
In the last Ford spending plan which carries suggestions for job levels through September of 1978, the government would grow by just over 51,000 jobs. But less than half the total would be in the full-time permanent positions. And that is the figure President Carter will be working with and the one key government job experts expect he will use as his ceiling.
As of last June, there were 2,448,348 full-time permanent federal employees (or jobs authorized but not filled) and that total under the Ford budget would go to 2,499,4800 by Sept. 30, 1978. That, in effect, is the ceiling Ford set and it is expected to be - with minor adjustments - the ceiling President Carter will settle on at least in the early months of this administration.
Total federal employment (including part time jobs, summer workers and intermittent employees) of the government was 2,832,462 last June. It would go up to 2,838,300 by Sept. 30 of 1978 under the Ford budget.
Major increases proposed by former President Ford would come in the Veterans Administration, the Departments of Justice, Housing and Urban Development and the Postal Service. President Carter is considered unlikely to change those totals significantly, and he is expected to generally go along with the 6,900 job reduction from September 1977 to September 1978 proposed for civilian jobs in the Defense Department.
Government insiders consider it significant that President Carter announced he would stick with job ceilings - rather than depend on dollar controls - in his Tuesday night fireside chat with the nation. They think that ceilings give more flexibility, and at the same time more control, than a switch to dollar ceilings which some Carter aides had suggested.
In his new budged ceiling, President Carter has three basic options:
Leave the Ford budget alone (except for minor up or down changes in some agencies) and let Congress work from those totals as it appropriates money.
Cutback the job ceilings proposed by President Ford, or
Raise the job ceilings proposed by President Ford.
The last option is considered unlikely and most job experts doubt that President Carter will do much in the way of substantial cutting from the Ford job totals.
Instead, experts, expect Carter to basically go along with the Ford budget - as far as federal job totals are concerned - since they do provide cutbacks in Defense, which Carter favors, and increases in domestic, socially-oriented programs, like HUD and HEW, which Carter has also indicated he favors.
Also, Small Business Administration, up to 200 Tennessee Valley Authority, up 500; U.S Information Agency, no change and U.S. Postal Service, a full-time permanent increase from September 1977 to September 1978 of 3,600 jobs. The Ford budget also asked for an increase of 3,000 contingency jobs that would be subject to distribution to agencies later on as needed.
The next step is for agencies - which have allowances from the Ford Administration and now are being asked to justify their needs along the lines proposed by the Carter Administration - to get their proposed job totals in within the next week. Then the Carter people through the Office of Management and Budget will okay, raise or lower those figures and send them back to agencies as tentatively approved, subject to an okay by Congress. The targets are due to go to Congress by Feb. 18.
Whether he cuts slightly, increases slightly or stands pat, these are the figurers (full-time, permanent employee) that Carter will be working with. The Ford budget called for;
Agriculture to increase by 700 jobs; Commerce to lose 100; Defense to drop 6,900 jobs; HEW up 100; HUD up 900; Interior up 40; Justice up 1,400; Labor, up 100; State up 10; Transportation, an increase of 1,200 Treasury, up 100; Energy Research and development Administratrion, up 300; Environmental Protection Agency, no change; General Services Administration, up 200; Space Agency, a cut of 100 jobs; Veterans Administration, up 3,800.
For agencies in the "other" or independent category, the Ford-proposed changes that Carter will base his job ceilings on look like this:
Agency for International Development, no change; Civil Service Commission, up 100; Federal Energy Administration, a cut of 200 jobs; Nuclear Regulatory Commission, increase of 200.