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ASPPH Urges Trump to Make Good on His Promised Public Health Exemption to the Federal Hiring Freeze

On Monday, January 23, the Trump Administration announced a federal hiring freeze. The presidential memorandum states, “The head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.” Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter,” issued during the campaign, promised, “a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).” (emphasis added) The public health exemption was missing in the presidential memorandum issued on the third day of the Trump Administration.

In a letter to President Trump on January 31, ASPPH Acting President and CEO Ms. Allison Foster urged President Trump to uphold his “campaign promise and to exempt vital public health workers from the Federal hiring ban. Key federal agencies cannot wait until the next domestic or global health security challenge to begin the hiring process. Having a cadre of highly trained federal workers ready to address public health threats is vital.”

Ms. Foster also asked President Trump to clarify that the order does not apply to agency fellows, interns, and residents in the various health professions, including public health. While ASPPH fellows appear safe, there is some uncertainty about the status of fellows and interns paid directly from agency funds.