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Much noise is made - especially in election years - about shrinking the size of the federal workforce. At the Department of the Interior, the workforce has already been chopped by nearly 18% from a 2003 peak of 59,318 to 48,798 at the end of 2015. The cabinet-level agency houses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and several other agencies and bureaus that are responsible for managing most of the federally managed public lands, conserving our birds, protecting endangered species, and much more.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - the agency that among other things issues MBTA and ESA permits to ornithologists and whose land management agencies issue permits to conduct research on federally managed public lands - peaked in 2003 with 8,448 on the payroll and now gets by with 7,501, a reduction of 11.2%.
At the U.S. Geological Survey, where it sometimes seems that half the Reston HQ is vacant, the workforce dropped from 8,253 in 2002 to 6,502 and the end of 2015 (a drop of 21%). Apparently, there is less and less that we need to know in order to manage our natural resources on a scientific basis.
And January 2017 will bring a hiring freeze. On top of years without pay increases (or very small increases), this increasing workload must make it challenging to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. The glow of civil service seems to be dimming. All the more reason for all of us to be grateful to those still standing!