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Federal employees: Too early to say how hiring freeze will play out

Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion.

CARBONDALE — Officials with local branches of federal agencies say it’s too soon to tell how they’ll be affected by President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze.

In one of his first acts as president, Trump on Monday signed an executive order freezing hiring for all new and existing federal jobs, except those in public safety, national security and the military.

The directive has left regional agencies unsure of where they stand.

There are still 138 federal positions located within a 100-mile radius of Carbondale listed on the official hiring website usajobs.gov. Those vacancies range from nursing jobs with the Department of Veterans Affairs to wildland firefighter posts with the U.S. Forest Service.

Tracy Fidler, public affairs officer with the Shawnee National Forest, said the Forest Service is still waiting on direction from the Office of Management and Budget and that she wouldn’t be able to speculate without more information.

A worker at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center in Marion said no one at the field office was willing to comment on the subject.

Although the two-page memorandum exempts the military, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Tuesday that the Department of Veteran Affairs will be covered under the freeze.

Acting VA Secretary Robert Snyder later said the department intends to take advantage of the freeze's allowances for public safety needs.

“Our acting VA Secretary is working closely with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that recruitment in patient care areas will not be affected by this hiring freeze,” Acting Public Affairs Officer Todd Wright, of the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said in an emailed statement, adding that he would provide more information as soon as the office was updated on the matter.

A representative of the United States Postal Service said the agency was also in the dark. 

“I know we’re looking into it at this time, but we’re not sure how it affects us yet,” said Mike Cooke, a USPS media relations specialist for the Southern Illinois region.

janis.esch@thesouthern.com

618-351-5082

On Twitter: @janis_eschSI

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