What impact do elections have on federal employee turnover?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2017 | Federal Employment Law


Elections can have a significant impact on federal workplaces. Obviously, the federal hiring freeze ordered by President Trump directly impacts federal employees. But in a broader sense, a change in administration typically comes with an increase in employee turnover – namely the first year the new president is in office.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review discusses this phenomenon, using data collected from the Office of Personnel Management.

How Common Is Federal Employee Turnover When a New President Takes Office?

As it turns out, federal employee turnover is quite common after a change in administration. On average, 6.1 percent of federal employees depart during the first year of a new administration.

However, there are typically more employee departures in agencies that are not ideologically matched to the administration.

Turnover in liberal-leaning government agencies tends to be higher with a republican administration. The same is true in conservative-leaning government agencies when a democratic president is elected. On average, 6.5 percent of federal employees “mismatched” with the party of the current administration depart during the first year.

Higher-level government employees are more likely to depart. In a normal year, approximately 8 percent of these employees depart. In the year of an administration change, approximately 9.6 percent depart.

Only time will tell how many federal employees leave now that President Trump is in office. We can expect higher rates this year simply because a new administration has taken office – but we don’t yet know if President Trump’s presence in the White House will cause that rate to increase even more.

While voluntary turnovers are made based on employee’s personal choices, there are numerous adverse personnel actions that are likely to occur as a result of “involuntary turnovers“. That is, several hundreds if not thousands of federal employees might face adverse actions (including removals) from management officials which may not be based on proper/legitimate business reason(s). A new management team might want to get rid of existing employee(s) just so that they can bring in another person of their choice. These types of personnel actions typically happen more during this transition period and honest hardworking federal employees often bear the loss and pain of these unwarranted and unfair personnel decisions. If you believe that this might be happening to you then you owe it to yourself to consult with a law firm that specializes in federal employment law.

Talk to an attorney today: The Devadoss Law Firm, P.L.L.C., represents federal employees in a variety of legal matters. To schedule a time to meet with an attorney, please call 888-351-0424.