Agencies bouncing back from sequestration cuts and years of hiring freezes are hiring more than 72,000 federal employees in 2015, according to figures from the Office of Management and Budget.
The non-postal federal workforce will grow from about 2.03 million federal employees to more than 2.1 million in fiscal 2015, as agencies look to fill gaps in their workforces and recover from previous losses, according to OMB.
In many cases agencies will return to 2013 levels. The Defense Department fell from 738,000 civilian employees in 2013 to 724,000 in 2014. In 2015 the agency is hiring about 20,600 employees.
The Defense Department will be using those new hires to bolster its cyber, acquisition and shipyard workforces, according to spokesman Nate Christensen.
"There are a number of areas in which the department continues to increase our civilian workforce capabilities and is hiring personnel," Christensen said.
Other areas of hiring include its sexual assault prevention, transition assistant, suicide prevention and disability evaluation workforces, he said.
But the Defense Department expects to see a slight drop in its workforce in fiscal 2016, shedding 2,900 jobs across the department as its needs and force structure changes, Christensen said.
Other agencies are hiring more people because of specific investments in programs or services, such as the Veterans Administration. The VA is hiring more than 19,000 doctors, nurses and other personnel to bolster services in the wake of reform legislation passed last year.
The VA has come under fire from veteran groups and lawmakers after investigations found that agency employees manipulated wait lists and scheduling systems to boost performance numbers and hide true wait list times. Initial investigations showed systemic wait list and medical care issues and forced the resignation of then-secretary Eric Shinseki.
Reforms passed by Congress included adding to its patient care workforce and reforming its scheduling systems and management structures.
Other agencies seeing growth is the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons. The Justice Department is adding about 5,000 jobs in fiscal 2015.
Other agencies seeing large increases in hiring include:
- The Agriculture Department, which will add 5,000 employees in fiscal 2015.
- The Health and Human Services Department, which will add 3,000 employees in fiscal 2015.
- The Department of Homeland Security, which will add about 3,800 jobs in fiscal 2015.
Agencies that would still shed jobs include the Treasury Department, which will lose 1,300 jobs driven primarily by losses at the IRS. Its workforce will drop from 99,200 employees to 97,900 in fiscal 2015.
The hiring is separate from the proposed addition of more than 34,000 federal employees included in President Obama's fiscal 2016 budget released Feb. 2. That proposal would see the overall workforce grow by about 1.6 percent, from about 2.105 million employees in fiscal 2015 to more than 2.14 in 2016.