Despite critics' repeated calls to freeze or reduce the size of the federal work force, the White House wants to add about 15,000 full-time employees to the payroll in fiscal 2012.
The executive branch's full-time civilian work force would top 2.1 million for the third straight year in 2012, according to the Obama administration's proposed budget. The work force would have 12,000 fewer employees in 2012 than in 2010. But if 2010 is excluded, the 2012 federal work force would be bigger than any year since 1993.
The largest increase would come at the Department of Homeland Security, which is expected to grow by about 8,000 employees to 194,000 employees — the biggest it has ever been.
But the Defense Department is expected to shrink by about 7,000 civilian full-time workers, giving it a work force of 748,000. The Agriculture Department would lose 3,000 employees.
The Treasury Department would gain 6,000 employees, leaving it with 117,000 employees. The Justice Department is expected to grow from 119,000 employees to 123,000 employees. The Transportation and Veterans Affairs departments would each gain 1,000 employees.
The Health and Human Services and Education departments and the Social Security Administration are expected to collectively grow from 140,000 to 146,000 in 2012. But SSA Chief Human Capital Officer Reginald Wells is disappointed by the White House's staffing projections.
"That doesn't feel like much of an increase," Wells said in an interview with Federal Times. "It's essentially no increase if we're talking about all those agencies. It means we would operate at pretty much the same level we are now."