From the FBI to the Department of Veterans Affairs, branches of the federal government are trying to figure out how a hiring freeze announced by President Donald Trump on Monday will affect their payrolls.
They have not yet received formal instructions to stop hiring, and some are moving forward to fill open jobs.
Trump said the hiring freeze would not affect the military when he followed through on a campaign pledge and signed an executive order restricting federal employment.
The text of the order, published late Monday, suggested the only explicit exemption would be for military personnel. It allows departments to hire for positions that are considered necessary for national security or public safety.
It prohibits other hiring as of Jan. 22.
In California, 866 jobs are being advertised at the federal government’s official hiring website, usajobs.gov. Fifty-three of them are in Sacramento.
Most of the Sacramento jobs are at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of the Interior and the California National Guard.
There’s also an open call for people who’d like to compete for jobs as FBI special agents.
California spokesmen for the VA, Department of Justice and the U.S. Geological Survey have not received instructions on whether they can hire.
“We’re proceeding until we’re instructed not to,” said Justin Pressfield, a spokesman for the USGS. The agency is hiring scientists to study water resources and wildlife in California.
The VA in Sacramento has postings for psychologists, nurses and social workers. There are also a number of civilian jobs at military installations near Sacramento for nurses and doctors.
Trump in his “contract with the American voter” announced during his campaign that he’d restrict hiring to “reduce the federal workforce through attrition.” He included exemptions for the military, public safety and health.
About 249,600 federal employees work in California today, according to data kept by the Employment Development Department. That’s up from 245,600 a year ago.
Members of Congress want more details on the workforce executive order.
“This is a very complex government and you want to be really careful with your edicts because chances are they’re going to come back and bite you if you’re not careful,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. He implemented a hiring freeze when he was a deputy secretary of the Interior Department during the Clinton administration.
“We’re going to stop hiring. Really? What about TSA? What about the Border Patrol? What about the guy doing cybersecurity for the Justice Department?” he asked.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, praised the order but cautioned that it will need oversight. He warned that a blanket hiring freeze could hurt agencies that he considers critical.
“I applaud President Trump’s determination to pare back the federal government,” McClintock wrote in a statement to The Sacramento Bee. “The plan’s success, though, rests in redesigning the service delivery systems, eliminating unnecessary agencies and reforming the direct spending programs. Otherwise, you run the risk of shorting manpower in your top priority functions while continuing over-staffing of low priority or unnecessary agencies.”