Trump issues orders to reduce restrictions on firing federal workers

Trump issues orders to reduce restrictions on firing federal workers
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE issued three executive orders on Friday aimed at cutting down on the time it takes to fire federal employees.

White House officials announced the orders on a call with reporters before they were released later in the evening. The officials said the changes are aimed at saving taxpayers $100 million per year.

Trump's directives emphasize a merit-based system for employees, while limiting the amount of time required before an agency can fire a federal employee.

They also encourage agencies to fire poor-performing employees instead of first suspending them, and direct agencies to limit the amount of time a poor-performing employee is given the chance to show improvement.

"Tenured Federal employees have stolen agency property, run personal businesses from work, and been arrested for using drugs during lunch breaks and not been fired," the White House said in a press release.

“To empower our civil servants to best help others, the government must always operate more efficiently and more securely," Trump said in a statement included in the release.

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The orders call for federal workers to devote at least 75 percent of their on-the-clock time to work-related purposes, direct agencies to reward "performance over seniority" and push agencies to renegotiate contracts with unions, among other provisions.

White House officials said on the call that many of the provisions were part of a wish list the Trump administration delivered to Congress that has yet to be acted on.

"The president called on Congress ... they haven’t done so yet. In the meantime, the president is using all available tools in the executive branch to come as close as he can," a senior Trump administration official said, according to BuzzFeed News.

Union officials and experts called the move an effort to decrease the power of federal employees' unions, which protect federal workers from unfair terminations and employment practices.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union which represents 700,000 government workers, issued a statement calling the move an "assault on public servants."

"Our government is built on a system of checks and balances to prevent any one person from having too much influence," the union's president David Cox said, according to BuzzFeed. "President Trump’s executive orders will undo all of that. This administration seems hellbent on replacing a civil service that works for all taxpayers with a political service that serves at its whim.”

Updated at 10:40 p.m.