The federal government's minority employes, middle to senior level executives and female managers have borne a disproportionate share of the Reagan administration's budget cuts and layoffs, according to a congressional survey released yesterday.
The survey, conducted by the Federal Government Service Task Force, found that executives in the grade levels 12 through 15 constituted 44 percent of the layoffs, that minority employes have been laid off at a rate 50 percent greater than nonminority employes and that women administrators have been laid off at a rate 150 percent higher than male administrators.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), a member of the task force, told a press conference called to release the study that a national consensus had formed around increasing the employment of women and minorities. The survey showed, Hoyer said, that "we are reversing that trend. We are retreating from that commitment. We are undermining that goal."
A total of 11,845 full- and part-time federal employes have been laid off in the past 18 months, according to the survey--4,727 persons during fiscal 1981, which ended Sept. 30, and an additional 7,118 during the first quarter of fiscal 1982. According to the survey, government agencies are reporting that an additional 5,383 employes will be laid off by the end of fiscal 1982, bringing the total number of layoffs to 17,228. These figures, however, do not include added reductions in force (RIFs) mandated by the continuing resolution passed by Congress earlier this month.
The task force, headed by Rep. Michael Barnes (D-Md.), had no breakdown of the impact in the Washington area, which has about 360,000 federal workers, or 12.5 percent of the federal work force. But an earlier task force survey, based on data from about half the layoffs, found they were hitting the D.C. area twice as hard as elsewhere.
The reductions in force are running somewhat ahead of the projections that the task force made available in its last report in October, when it forecast 15,002 RIFs through the end of fiscal 1982. Now the task force is forecasting 17,228 RIFs by the end of the fiscal year.
According to Barnes, among the hardest-hit agencies in the upcoming RIFs will be those where aggrieved federal workers might turn for relief --the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Labor Relations Authority, each of which must absorb a 16 per cent budget cut.
Barnes said the FLRA already is reporting a "massive backlog" of cases and is now facing a 52 percent reduction in staff.
In raw numbers, more men and nonminority employes have been laid off. An analysis by the task force staff, however, shows that minority employes were laid off at a rate of 69 per 10,000 minority employes compared with a layoff rate of 46 per 10,000 nonminority employes.
Similarly, minority executives at the level of grades 12 through 14 were laid off at a rate of 181 per 10,000 compared with 46 per 10,000 for nonminority employes. Women executives at those levels were laid off at a rate of 175 per 10,000 women compared with 70 per 10,000 for men.
Overall, men were RIFfed at 1.2 times the rate of women, the survey found, largely because women are concentrated more heavily in the lower GS ranks, which were least affected by the layoffs.
The disproportionately high number of GS 12s and above being laid off reflects a necessity to move up the executive ladder in order to reduce the salary load enough to meet new budget limits, according to task force staff members. A GS12's starting salary, for example, is $28,245 annually and runs up to a maximum of $36,723. A GS14 starts at $39,689 and runs up to $51,596.
In addition to reductions in force, accounting for roughly 48 percent of the personnel actions taken, the survey reported that agencies apparently have reduced the magnitude of layoffs by downgrading employes to a lower grade or transferring them.
Lynn Revo-Cohen, congressional liaison for Federally Employed Women, said that female employes of the federal government are in "double bind," lacking the seniority that male employes have by virtue of longer employment and also lacking the veterans preference that gives employes who served in the U.S. armed forces a higher score when seniority is computed.
Revo-Cohen said agency heads should follow the Office of Personnel Management directive suggesting that RIFs should be used only as a last resort. She also called for a change in the system used for computing seniority so that Vietnam veterans, disabled veterans and widows of veterans would receive the veterans preference while older veterans would not receive the preference but would compete "on the basis of merit and seniority."