The preamble to the Republican platform released at the party's convention in Tampa, Fla., last week says the document provides "a vision of where we are headed."
Wherever that is, it is not a place many federal employees would want their pay, benefits and workforce to go.
As a Republican roadmap, the platform points in a general direction but not always to an exact destination. It is less specific and provides fewer details than those previously offered by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
To get a better idea of what a Republican victory would mean for federal workers, it's necessary to look at what the Romney campaign and the House budget document, prepared by the committee Ryan chairs, have said about employees, as well as the platform.
They all agree on two main points: There are too many federal workers and their compensation is too high. Of course, many people strongly disagree with that.
"Despite the fact that many federal agencies are already lacking the necessary resources and staffing, and despite the fact that federal employees have already contributed $60 billion over 10 years through a two-year pay freeze and $15 billion in increased pension contributions, this plan targets the dedicated middle class federal workforce for further cuts," Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said after the platform was released.
It calls for "adjustment of pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector."
That would mean a big pay raise if Republicans based their policy on repeated government surveys. But they don't. For years, under Democratic and Republic administrations, the Federal Salary Council, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, has determined that federal workers are paid significantly less than their private sector counterparts. The council includes agency officials, union representatives and other pay experts. Its latest report, issued in November, indicates government workers are underpaid, on average, by 26.3 percent.
Republicans ignore or dump on that data and prefer to cite a report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which says federal workers are overpaid by at least 30 percent, including benefits.
Romney's website uses the Heritage data and has a more specific prescription than the platform. Romney's site says "federal compensation exceeds private sector levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent when benefits are taken into account. This must be corrected."
"Path to Prosperity," the House budget document prepared under the direction of Ryan, in the Wisconsin lawmaker's role as chairman of the House Budget Committee, says the current freeze on basic federal pay should be extended through 2015, for a total of five years. Ryan, who has become the intellectual standard-bearer of the Republican Party, also wants federal workers to pay more for their retirement benefits.
Romney and Ryan also want fewer federal workers and would cut the workforce by 10 percent through attrition. Romney and Ryan are more specific than the platform, which provides no guidance on when or how the reduction should happen.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, decried the Republicans' plans, saying they ignore the fact that "the federal workforce is smaller today than it was under President Reagan."
"Believe in America," Romney's economic plan, says the workforce cut could be achieved by hiring one person for every two who leave the government. Romney's plan indicates it would not be across the board but would allow "the president flexibility to allocate the new hiring to those areas where additional resources could be put to most effective use." Ryan's budget calls for a one-for-three reduction to take place over three years.
National security agencies would be exempt from hiring limitations under Ryan's plan. Because national security agencies make up such a large portion of the federal workforce, cuts to other agencies apparently would have to be more than 10 percent.
Where that meat ax would fall remains to be seen.