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Letter to the President, National Federation of Federal Employees.

September 17, 1947

[Released September 17, 1947. Dated August 28, 1947]

My dear Mr. Steward:

I wish to express my regret at being unable to accept your kind invitation to join with you in celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the National Federation of Federal Employees, as it would be most pleasant to be with you on that occasion.

Over this period of thirty years you have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of good government. You have taken the lead many times in urging action on the part of both the legislative and executive branches of the government which, when taken, has proved to be sound from every point of view. Above all, you have so conducted the affairs of your organization that today your advice and counsel is welcomed by leaders in both the legislative and executive branches of the government.

The type of constructive leadership which has been reflected in your work over the years is needed today more than ever before. For the past two years the executive branch has been in the process of being converted from a wartime to a peacetime basis. During this period, the number of civilian employees on the federal pay roll has been reduced from 3,770,000 to approximately 2,088,000. Never before in the history of this or any other country has a single employer, within such a short period of time, been called upon to discharge 1,680,000 persons.

And yet, on the whole, the program has been carried forward in a fair and orderly manner. The fact that it has been done in this way is a tribute to thousands of civilian employees who have been called upon to plan large reductions in force and to see to it that they were carried out in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.

This sharp reduction has, however, left problems in its wake. In some instances men and women who over a period of years have been serving as career employees in the Federal service have been separated while temporary and war-service employees remain. In this connection I believe it to be the responsibility of the Federal government to see that those who choose to make its service a career are protected in their right to useful and efficient employment as long as there are positions for which their qualifications are suited occupied by temporary or war-service employees. To this end it is the policy of the Federal government to return to duty in the Federal service as soon as possible separated career employees whose work has been satisfactory and whose services are needed. When they cannot be placed in vacancies, war-service and temporary employees must be separated from jobs the career employees are qualified to fill.

As we look to the future, however, we must not only think in terms of protecting the career service, but we must also think in terms of strengthening it so that it will be in a position to render an increasingly effective service to the people of this nation. There are many things which still need to be done, such as the modernizing of salary structures, the introduction of effective programs for promoting employees in the departments and agencies, the handling of grievances, and increasing the competence of those who occupy supervisory positions. I invite and solicit your cooperation in solving these and other related problems.

I know that the many constructive accomplishments of the past thirty years, as far as your organization is concerned, will serve to spur you on to even more constructive activity in the years which lie immediately ahead.

You have my continued best wishes for success and for a most enjoyable anniversary meeting.

Sincerely yours,


[Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, 10 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington 4, D.C.]

Harry S Truman, Letter to the President, National Federation of Federal Employees. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232302

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