Reports & Research

Workforce Changes are on the Horizon

What You Need to Know (or What You Need to Consider)

Apr 26, 2017

Proposed cuts for Fiscal 2018 and beyond could lead to significant reductions in program and labor dollars. While we do not yet know the outcome of the budget negotiations, it is clear that cuts of some kind are likely to occur in many agencies. The scope of the proposed reductions is unlike anything we have seen since the Defense reductions following the end of the Cold War.

As agencies plan to reduce mission programs and staff, they will also be planning reductions in support staff such as human resources, procurement, financial management, and information technology. Agency leaders must assess how to restructure to meet mission requirements, the extent to which the current workforce will be affected, and how they will transition to a new concept of operations with reduced funding.

Sequestration and delays in getting budgets passed have made budget cuts a common part of managing a federal agency. However, the reductions in the President’s proposed budget amp up the pressure to levels many agency leaders have not experienced. What is the first step in planning for the future of the agency while ensuring mission success? What are critical considerations? 

There are a number of organizational planning components agencies must consider to help ease the transition, while minimizing disruption the agency’s mission.

  • Organization Restructuring – Consideration of the mission requirements and how to allocate resources to meet the future demand
  • Financial Modeling – Reviewing financial obligations to identify cost savings, including in technology, leased space, service contracts, and workforce reshaping
  • Alternatives to Reduction in Force (RIF) – Using the entire toolbox of workforce shaping tools to produce the workforce the agency needs to operate in a new configuration, while minimizing disruption to the mission and the number of involuntary separations
  • RIF – Understanding and applying the process for RIF to ensure a fair and legal process is followed
  • Reduction-in-Force Training – Ensuring the agency workforce running any RIF has the knowledge and tools to ensure a “clean” RIF that does not result in lost grievances, appeals, complaints and arbitrations.
  • Stakeholder Communications  – Crafting the right  messages to share pertinent information and improve transparency, using every available communications tool, including digital

Rather than waiting until a budget is passed, agencies can take steps now to prepare for any eventuality, including RIF. Making significant cuts to agency operations takes planning. Much of that planning can be done with the potential for RIF in mind. Because RIF requires 6 months or more of planning, agencies that anticipate budget cuts of 10% or more should start planning immediately. The importance of planning cannot be overstated, as it ensures that any restructuring decisions and potential RIFs are sound and that employees are treated fairly, kept informed of the plans, and when appropriate, have ample opportunity to seek employment outside the agency.

For more information, view the webinar on-demand: Why Your Agency Is Not Prepared for a Reduction in Force (RIF).