Deep Spending Cuts for Agencies in the New Budget? -Part 1

by | May 5, 2017

Last Updated May 21, 2024
Caution Sign for Spending Cuts Ahead

Originally, the White House proposed deep spending cuts to civilian agencies to offset the $18 billion proposal for more military spending and additional funds to pay for President Trump’s wall along the southern border. While there may not have been a change of heart, per say, the original spending cuts proposed aren’t quite so deep.

Below are a few areas that may interest civilian agency employees with regards to the proposed budget bill.

Homeland Security

An additional $3 billion was requested for the Department of Homeland Security which would begin to pay for the President’s executive orders on border security and immigration enforcement during the remaining 5 months of the fiscal year. Congress has appropriated about half of what Trump originally requested, about $1.5 billion for “enhanced border security”.

The additional $1.5 billion that the administration wanted for the border wall will instead go toward the maintenance, infrastructure, and technology for the existing wall along the southern border.

The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had this to say at a May 1 briefing, “This is only a 5-month plan. Once we looked our hands over, we realized it was almost impossible, if not impossible, to actually get bricks and mortar on the ground in 5 months, so why start fighting it now? Let’s focus on things we can do in this fiscal year.”

Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will each receive relatively large boosts in their budgets.

The Office of the Secretary and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will see funding reductions due to “projected under-execution of proposed FTE.”

Budget Boosts Instead of Spending Cuts

The Secret Service will get a big boost to its budget; a $13 million increase for additional overtime pay for agents, $8 million for retention efforts, and $28.5 million for more agent relocation costs. They will also receive $34 million for “increased physical presidential and other security requirements”.

The Coast Guard will get an additional $4.5 million for more staff to its cyber command and to establish an official Cyber Protection Team.

For the first time, most of DHS’s budget is being restructured into four common account categories to coincide with the department’s efforts to simplify and streamline its budgeting activities among 22 component agencies. The budget also directs DHS to continue its work with each component on hiring processes and metrics. The department needs to brief Congressional committees on its strategy to decrease the number of days it takes to hire new talent.

The Environmental Protection Agency

The bill directs the EPA to submit an operating plan for 2017 within a month after the bill becomes a law. Also, they must stay within a $1 million limit for reprogramming funds.

Documents state, “It is noted that such reprogramming directives apply to proposed reorganization, workforce restructure, reshaping, transfer of functions, or downsizing, especially those of significant national or regional importance, and include closures, consolidations, and relocations of offices, facilities, and laboratories. Further, the agency may not use any amount of de-obligated funds to initiate a new program, office, or initiative without prior approval of the committees.”

For science and technology programs, the bill provides $706 million, and environmental programs and management gets about $2.6 billion.

“The agency must first apply the rescissions across program project areas to reflect routine attrition that will occur in these program project areas in FY2017.”

The Internal Revenue Service

The IRS will get $2.2 billion for taxpayer services and of that, at least $206 million must get spent on operating expenses, including $5 million for identity theft casework.

Close to $5 billion is being provided for enforcement purposes. The agency has lost 17,000 net employees since 2010 and about 7,000 were “key enforcement personnel”.

The bill specifies $290 million should be used for only “measurable improvements in the customer service representative level of service rate, to impose the identity and prevention of refund fraud and identity theft, and to enhance cyber security to safeguard taxpayer data.”

It also directs the agency to make funds available for “improved facilities and increased staffing to provide sufficient and effective 1-800 helpline services for taxpayers.”

Proposed spending cuts are not always approved and should not be cause for concern at first. The second part of this article will look at how this new budget will affect cyber security/IT efforts across the government, OPM, the General Services Administration, and the State Department.

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