128. Memorandum for the Files1


  • Comments on 50% Hiring Freeze

Jim Barie, OMB, whom I called to obtain details on the 50% hiring freeze, provided the following information:

The rules will be set forth in an OMB bulletin which is now at the printers. He provided comments to me on the basis of a draft which he thinks is in accord with the final.2

[Page 508]

The 50% hiring freeze applies to full-time employees, including foreign nationals. Not more than 50% of the number of vacancies occurring on or after October 25 are to be filled. Reallocation of personnel within an agency is permitted. Vacancies in existence on October 24 can only be filled by applying the 50% rule for vacancies which occur from October 25 onward (i.e. we are stuck with vacancies in existence on October 24). The 50% freeze is in effect until “further notice”.

Contracting outside the U.S. Government in order to compensate for services lost as a result of the hiring freeze will not be permitted. Hiring of temporary employees to make up for losses caused by the hiring freeze will not be permitted.

There are some exemptions to the freeze. One such category is emergency hirings to prevent loss of life and provide security. Some persons presently exempted from agency employment ceilings, such as some types of summer employees or employees in certain types of minority programs, will not be counted. Barie noted that Pearson Program3 detailees were now, by law, not included in the State Department ceiling, and they would not be counted. Also exempt are those to whom a firm employment commitment has been made in writing before October 25. All executive level appointments are excepted, and this in Barie’s opinion would include ambassadors.

The OMB is empowered to make limited exceptions upon direct appeal to the Director of OMB. However, Barie emphasized that the OMB intended to make such exceptions only in the case of dire emergency.

There appears to be an exception in the case of employees who provide services to meet specific requirements of law. Barie said that some consular functions might fall into this category.

Barie did not know when the freeze was likely to end, but he thought we could assume that it would be in effect at least until January, at which time we will receive OMB’s revised 1979 employment ceiling (i.e. the lower ceiling to meet the requirements of the Leach Amendment).4 He said that he had a “gut feeling” that if we were below that ceiling at that time, the freeze might be lifted for us, but he had no specific information to support that feeling.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1978–1979, Box 4, Chron October 21–25, 1978. No classification marking. Prepared by Gifford Malone (M/MO). Copies were sent to Joan M. Clark (M/MO), James M. Ealum (M/MO), and Read.
  2. For the President’s October 26 memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies on the hiring freeze, see Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book II, p. 1856. See also “‛1 for 2’ Hiring Policy at State,” Department of State Newsletter, December 1978, pp. 9–10.
  3. The Pearson Program allows Foreign Service officers to serve temporary assignments with congressional members or committees.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 127.