122. Editorial Note

On March 2, 1977, President Jimmy Carter ordered a limit on the hiring of federal employees. Federal agencies were instructed to fill no more than 75 percent of their civilian vacancies. On February 2, during a fireside chat, Carter said “Soon I will put a ceiling on the number of people employed by the Federal Government agencies, so we can bring the growth of Government under control.” (“Carter, Looking to a Lid on Federal Employees, Orders Limit on Hiring,” New York Times, March 3, 1977, page 23) Over the previous decade, the number of Department of State employees had already been reduced by over 15 percent. (Memorandum from Feldman to Moose, March 15, 1977; National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1977–1978, Box 2, Chron March 1977)

The hiring limit was a precursor to employment ceilings, established on an agency-by-agency basis by the Office of Management and Budget, which were projected to be established in April. The previous ceiling of 2,108,500 Federal employees had been established by President Gerald Ford. Each President set an employment ceiling as a part of the annual budget process.