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  • Morning Bell: Federal Government Overpaid $47 Billion a Year

    Today, the White House is launching its second annual SAVE Award, which encourages federal employees to submit ideas on how to save taxpayer dollars. Federal employees will be able to rank the submissions submitted by colleagues, and then the general public will be able to vote on the top submissions later this year. Last year’s contest generated more than 38,000 submissions from government employees and more than 84,000 votes. Last year’s winner? A Department of Veterans Affairs employee from Colorado who suggested that VA medical centers should permit patients to take home extra bandages and medication when they are discharged. Estimated savings: $14.5 million by 2014. Not bad. But we have a better idea. How about paying federal employees what they would be worth in the private sector? Potential savings: $47 billion a year.

    In March, USA Today reported that Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations that exist both in government and the private sector. Instead of taking the news as an opportunity to save taxpayers money, the Obama administration pushed back against the news and dispatched Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag to defend government employee pay. Orszag told reporters: “I think the key thing to remember about that is the federal workforce is more highly educated than the private workforce. … Basically the entire delta between private sector and public sector federal government average pay can be explained by education and experience.” The problem is, this is just not true.

    Heritage Foundation senior labor policy analyst James Sherk has just released a paper analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS) for 2006 through 2009. The data show that even after controlling for education and experience, federal employees get paid 22% more per hour on average than private-sector workers. And that does not include the significant non-cash benefits government workers receive. Federal employees not only can enroll in a Thrift Savings Plan that works like a 401(k), but they also get a “defined contribution” plan, which lets a worker with 30 years of experience retire at 56 with full benefits. And don’t forget the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, paid leave, group life insurance and on-site child care. To be sure, many private employers offer similar benefits but not all of these at the same time. All told, while the average private-sector employee gets $9,882 in annual benefits, federal government employees get $32,115 on average. Adding cash and non-cash compensation together, federal employees earn approximately 30 to 40 percent more in total compensation than comparable private-sector workers.

    And the gravy train doesn’t end there. How much would near-absolute job security be worth to you? While their private sector counterparts have seen the unemployment rate rise from 4.2% to a high of 10.6%, the percentage of federal employees who lost jobs barely budged, going from 2.0% to 2.9%. And if “serving” in the public sector is such a “sacrifice” then why do federal employees voluntarily leave their jobs at roughly a third the rate that private sector employees do?

    Why does this pay gap exist? In the private sector, productivity determines workers’ pay. Firms that overpay their employees are driven out of business by competitors that more accurately price their employees’ economic contribution. But the government is a monopoly. It has no competitors to act as a check on employee compensation. If the federal government paid market rates for their employees’ skill, education and experience, it would save taxpayers $47 billion in 2011 alone.

    Not all federal employees are overpaid. The most skilled and hardest working are probably underpaid. The problem is that our government operates under a wage-fixing pay scale set by Congress. This seniority-based system divorces federal pay from individual performance. Abolishing the General Schedule system and implementing performance-based pay would go a long way toward getting taxpayers a fair deal. Reducing federal benefits and making it easier to dismiss unproductive employees would also help.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    73 Responses to Morning Bell: Federal Government Overpaid $47 Billion a Year

    1. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      When my mother and step-father worked for the Fed. Gov't. inthe 40's thru the 50's they made less than they would on the "outside". Because we lived in D.C. area alot of people here worked for the Gov't. as they came here during WWII to take the jobs created by the war. Trouble is these so called temp. jobs turned into lifetime careers and the Gov't. keeps adding jobs, never deleting. BHO said he would do every branch on a line by line audit, so far all he's done is add his goon's to the fed. payroll. Back in the '50's there were 3 and 4 people doing the same job, wonder what it is today?

    2. Kathy Mathis, GA says:

      I am having difficulty with the reports about how badly federal workers are overpaid. In my husband's field, he could be making twice as much in the private sector. Also, they have no secretaries or administrative assistants, and do all typing, filing, organizing, phone calls, research, etc themselves.

      Can you research more in the area of highly qualified vs less qualified (college degrees required vs none) ? I am not sure you are portraying the whole picture.

    3. justapatriot, Texas says:

      Between my military service and my civil service, I haved served the American Public for 25 years. I joined the military in 1978 because unemployment was at 10%, and I couldn't find a job that paid enough to support myself.

      Yes, I did get into civil service back in 1991 primarily for job security. It sure wasn't for the pay – I started at the GS-1 level, the lowest grade, and made less than a clerk at McDonalds. I've worked my way up to the mid level grade, and my salary is comparable to others in my field in the civilian sector. It is not mandatory to retire at 56, most people work until 60-62, as I will be. Then I will probably have to find part time work, because my fixed retirement will not sustain my husbands and my lifestyle, which is extremely modest. We still reside in the 30 year old home we raised our children in, and we have just enough income between us to pay bills, save a little money, and take one short trip a year by car.

      I'm not ashamed for wanting job security, every American who has to work for a living desires this. And I'm not going to apologize for paying towards my retirement either. Yes, a lot of jobs have over-inflated salaries, especially in upper management. Go after them, not the worker-bees.

    4. George Colgrove, Arl says:

      First, the USA Today article was using 2008 numbers, the spread has grown since.

      Second, the Defense department has used the performance based pay scale for their 290,000 civilian feds. Because upper management failed to fill out the evaluations, everyone was rewarded with an average $1400 pay raise as they switched to the GS system. You know, a fed's pay cannot go down. This switch over is currently underway. This failure will cost the taxpayers nearly 400 billion a year!

      Your analysis does not include other such perks such as excessive training that may or may not include travel/lodging costs to cities outside of the District (DC), even if similar training IS available inside the District. Nearly limitless access to the internet throughout the day. Do a supplemental to this article after you get the internet usage reports from each departments. I think this will be revealing as well.

    5. geomilo says:

      attacking gov employees is really loss class for your foundation, civl service is not this overpaid less work picture that you paint, running down the people who work for you is bad business, and continual comments on their pay is just what obama wants to hear, lower the standard for all americans, even it out with the rest of the world, bring down the standard of living for americans, 40,000 a yr is tooo much to live on, I am going to check out brookings maybe they lie less……

    6. Ron, NJ says:

      Not to worry, he will begin cutting military pay soon.

    7. Sagacious in Oregon says:

      I took my secular job skills into the Seniors and Disability Services Department in Oregon and lasted 6 months…these people are nuts..and this was no place for a conservative to work…I just could not stop my job to watch the pres scream from the SEIU pulpit…The pay was the best ever, the benefits were fantastic and when hired I commented on how fantastic the health ins was and was told "you should tell the others, they think it is terrible that we now have a $100 deductable now”…wow I don't even have insurance anymore…they fired me!! Said I was not a good fit, boy were they right!!

    8. Mike McCord, Louisvi says:

      If the federal employees are so much more qualified than the private workforce, why is our government so inefficient? These workers should make whatever agency they work in run like a top. The trouble is, I can't think of any federal programs/agencies that do anything very well and most don't!

      If the government doesn't want to change the pay structure, they should at least downsize like the private sector has to.

    9. Joe H Hammonds Trent says:

      Well, this definitely shows how out -of -touch "our" government has gotten! "We the People" need to be setting pay, benefits and etc. for our elected public servants!

      First, let us cut Congress' pay by 1/3, make them and all who have since left and drawing their retirement, put all their retirement $'s back in the Social Security Program and they should get the same Health Care as the voting public gets. They should no longer get to receive their salaries after they leave congress. This is one of the most obsured concepts I've ever heared of; this is what happens when you let a group of selfish people set the pay & benefits package for themselves! This system is definitely broken and broken badly!

      I also think that all this foreign ade that goes out to all these countries that "hate" us, needs to come back home until we get our national debt paid off and then re-evaluate and see which countries are really in need of our $'s. Yes, I also think that all these big money people of congress need to dig down deep in each of their pockets and pay back that so-called "IOU" to the Social Security Program from which the government has been stealing since the LBJ days in office.

      I just can't figure out how all these dump, self idolizing people can continue to want to steal and give away money that employer's and employees have placed away for their future retirement! Our government is so far out of control that we need to do what Our Constitution states that we can do if our government is not doing what they were elected to do! It's time that "We The People" do what it is that we have been given the Power to do. Come on America, it is election time, get over this Party minded concept, since both of these parties have gotten us into this mess, and vote for the best person for the job, no matter which affilliation they belong to! The "Silent Majority" has the respossibility to get this right! A Democracy is the government of the majority, not individual rights. We are allowing our government to address the needs of 14% of our nation. This is not right. We don't need to go back to a bigotted society, we need to get back to a "Nation Under God" abd live our lives according to the golden rule; "do unto others as you would have them do unto you!" This is the real issue. "Love you neighbor as youself". Come on America, I think there are plenty of us left that can make this simple con cept work; with God's help and the love of Jesus in each peron's heart it will work!

      Okay, I've opened up myself, take your best shots and see if you can make anymore sense that I have tried to make. God Bless America!

    10. Dr. Leigh Taliaferro says:

      Sad but true. Lots of problems ongoing in our nations capital. Thank goodness that the Heritage Foundation is there. But what are we to do?

    11. Elizabeth Stewart, R says:

      I went to the Presidents website for the save award to put in my suggestions and found that I can't do anything without giving the Government my e-mail address which I don't have a problem with, but I refuse to give them my password to get into my account. What's up with that? The Government already has their hands in my pocket and their nose in my business, I don't need them monitoring my e-mails as well. Even though I know they already do. Thanks, Elizabeth

    12. ann kitay fulton, tx says:

      Interesting info. Having worked at NASA ages ago remember a lot of talk about 'double-dippers'. A number of Nasa employees had retired from the armed forces or other government entities and hired in to government jobs at a different level – thus double dipping. Remember a lot of complaints against it back in the late '70's. Is this still going on?

    13. Mary, WI says:

      Great article. I'm printing it out for a friend of mine that constantly complained she wasn't paid enough and that her benefits sucked. She is a federal employee and retired last year at age 56 with full benefits. I'm still working at age 60.

    14. John E. Walters, San says:

      An interesting article and a wonderful goal. I am surprised that you did not hit upon the answer for why much greater compensation is required. Having worked with Federal Civil Service employees, I can give two very good reasons for why their compensation should be higher than the public sector. You in fact touched on one of the reasons in your article. Due to Civil Service rules it is all but impossible to be rid of an incompetent employee. You mentioned this as job security but the other well known impact is that to be rid of an incompetent employee, you simply promote them beyond the skill classification in your department. So that accounts for 30% to 40% of the Civil Servants I worked with. The others demand higher compensation for having to work with the 30 to 40% of incompetents. Ladies and Gentlemen, May I present OUR government completely out of it's mind!!!

    15. Kent - Florida says:

      This is no surprize.

      Unions, from the start have been about redistribution of wealth. They talk a good game, training, safety, fair wages,…all are, are best, twisted side effects of the intent of unions to consolodate power and promote Marxist principals.

      Don't take my word for it, go read the stated goals of any union, then read the goals posted on any Socialist or Communist group. – Deja-vu!

      The similariteis are not by accident, nor coincidental, they can not even be considered "parallel", becasue there is no separation!

      The goals are identical.

      The cold war did not end Communisum, it only (temporarily) bankrupted the Soviet domination of that culture. And, in the sense of "renewed friendship and trust", on our part, only made it easier for "them" to subvert our culture.

    16. BJ says:

      I am a Federal Employee and while this article is true for the most part, the 10% of us who do all the work for the same pay as the lazy ones get punished for these broad brushes. I have submitted suggestions that would save millions, but they never get attention. The first thing that must be stopped is this giant move to Flexiplace (ie "work" from home). Where already overpaid and unproductive workers work even less.

    17. David, Alaska says:

      After viewing the USATODAY chart and seeing my job rating for "Computer, information systems manager" I would like to argue that that chart is grossely incorrect. I am a federal employee and where I work there is one person that makes near that much money, out of the 100 IT positions that are in my area. Infact to make that much money in the Federal system in general you are talking about someone that is a GS15 in our payscale which is the highest you can go. In the private sector the job I do I can make about 40% more than I make as a federal employee. People then say why do I stay. I stay because 1. I am not greedy and 2. if all of the good people that work for the federal government left could you imagine how much worse it could get? Believe me it could get alot worse. I have been complaining about how hard it is to actually get rid of a bad employee. That i believe is the real problem, not being able to actually reduce a workforce and keep the assets that actually perform. You can view our pay table here: http://www.opm.gov/oca/10tables/html/gs.asp but please remember that you have to work your way up in the world you just don't come in where ever you want on the scale. Also in the IT field we are required to have a degree or some sort of highly sought after certification to get a job in the 9-15 range. The majority of IT folks come in at the GS-09 range. Now there is a different scale for IT folks but it only applys to the 9-12 range then it gets back to the normal scale. According to the USATODAY pole for the IT job you are looking at a GS15 step 8. Now to get that step 8 you would of had to of been a GS15 for 12 years.

      Just my 2 cents.

    18. Rich, Loudon, TN says:

      You can't discuss the Federal pay disparity without addressing the public employees' unions that are responsible for it. That said, simply abolishing the General Schedule system and implementing a performance-based compensation is easier said than done, if even realistic.

    19. Greg B. Vail, AZ says:

      It is about time that we as the payers of government employee's should decide if they are to be allowed union membership. It would be a tremendous chore, but the heads of every department should be held accountable for over pay, or under pay of his/her workers. If they are getting more than a comparable job in the private sector, their pay should be cut to reflect the difference. The opposite is also the case. True, this would cause a life style adjustment, but too many have been living to high for too long on the backs of the private sector.

    20. Ellen, Maryland says:

      As a federal employee in the DC area I wonder if the study considered locality pay and the cost of living in DC? The majority of federal workers are, logically, employed in the DC area which I believe ranks only slightly behind Honolulu, San Francisco, and Manhattan in terms of housing costs. I have over 20 years experience in a highly specialized engineering field and a M.S. degree but until this summer, with the drop in housing prices, I am only just now able to enter the housing market.

      Being a responsible conservative, I am most shocked by the explosion of Federal hiring under this administration which is not fulfilling a need but a political agenda (how many environmental scientists and regulators do we need working for DOD? And why are they hiring so many positions in Homeland Security and Border Patrol when they don't let the people they have do their job?) Andwhile they destroyed NASA's manned space program, they didn't save any tax dollars – they increased the NASA budget by over $1-2B and are making NASA's science objectives second to Muslim relations and bogus climate change policy driven "Earth Science" missions.

      We better elect some conservatives that will immediately pounce on all the corruption and radical appointees and have them removed or impeached, then roll back all the damage this admin has caused.

    21. Dan DeLallo says:

      Wow…today I find myself, a white, college educated male, age 46 with nearly twenty years experience in the same field, working every angle I can think of to find a job in my field…in any field, that could provide my family of four enough money to remain in place for next five years until my children go off to college themselves. After consuming most all of my 401k, and my wife creating and expanding a company to provide some level of income, I am finally considering taking a California government placement exam to see if I am qualified to enjoy a public sector position. I have fought this temptation for nearly two years since losing my job as a regional sales manager. Why…why should I sacrifice while so many others enjoy bloated government compensations based on time served…not on competencies?

      Since October 2008, I have helped to grow a sales and marketing company in the private sector as a consulting partner. This includes creation of websites for profit and for cause. The "cause" revolves around conservative principles in government…particularly in Congress. This "cause" is for the future of our United States of America. Why…why have I done this while so many others in the Sacramento area enjoy government salaries, government pensions equaling ninety percent of the highest annual compensation of their careers?

      No…I have not taken a job with a fast food restaurant, a retail position stocking shelves, a construction job, etc. Instead, I have continued to do what I know and build a business while searching for employment commensurate with my education and experience. In this way I contiinue to add value to our economy by providing segments of industry with better and less expensive solutions; thereby improving a competitive edge they are building in their industries.

      Yes…I recently submitted my resume for a Department of Homeland Security position; however, I continue to submit resumes for positions around the country and around the world. I am committed to capitalism and the free markets in my ideals. As I understand my current circumstances, it should be clear to all in my situation that there is a oversupply of talent in the market. I am where I am today because of the decisions I have made in my life…every decision, every day. So are you!

      What do we do? Yield to a Socialist regime and fill the ranks of Government? Well, if you have the talent and time needed to turn this Government around to restore our founding principles so well articulated by the Heritage Foundation, then please join those ranks.

      May God Bless all in this great country and may He guide those lost back to a respect of the individual, back to respect for liberty to ourselves and our prosperity.

    22. Eagle, ID says:

      My father is a retired Federal Employee (GS-14) with the BLM and worked a long time with the Federal Govt making far less than he could in the private sector, but knew some day he would make a better wage, he retired in 89 making $60K. That was old school. Today, Federal employees make over twice what others make in this area (Idaho) for similar work experience and time on the job. I'm a loan officer and did a mortgage loan for a guy that happened to also work for the BLM as a Chief Field Ranger and reported income at $120K a year. He was worried because he was due to retire at 55 and would only be bringing in $80K. I about choked, and frankly was pissed. Also to note for your article… It is fair to report that Federal employees are not eligible for SS retirement, so their retirement income is all they get…. however, Federal employees that also have military retirement can draw both Civil Service retirement and military retirement. Also, military retirement employees, can draw SS retirement on top of their military retirement.

    23. marjorie stringham, says:

      Congress should give back the raise of $3600 a month they just gave themselves. They should also pay their own permimun on their health care plans. Any flight expenses should be paid by them, including Obama's.

    24. Liz, Maryland says:

      I would go farther to realize further savings.

      The very culture of any bureaucracy, whether local or federal, is (with individual exceptions) exceedingly inefficient. Work takes place at a snail's place (sorry, you just can't type quickly with 2-inch fingernails). There is little sense of urgency and, in my experience, act is if my problem is not their priority ("I'm supposed to be on my break"). Gross infractions do not lead to dismissal. And "looking busy" seems to be a job requirement.

      If the recent porn-surfing revelations at the SEC and the MMS are any indication, we could probably cut the federal workforce by at least 15% without loss of productivity–If everyone actually worked 8 hours. Time is money, except in a bureaucracy.

    25. toledofan says:

      What a joke; don't get me wrong eliminating waste is important and those that are giving examples or suggestions should be commended, but, we should be serious and not make this into some left feel good game. Why not start with cutting 20% of each government department, regardless of the size, freeze the budget at pre-911 levels, and stop spending on everything but essentilas like funding the war and whatever else has to be funded. It's time to get serious about what Congress is spending and this administration can't and won't do what is necessary because if they do it will mean their policies are a failure.

    26. Robert Goodfellow says:

      If you cannot make it in the private world then one goes to work for the Federal Government.

    27. James Chittick, Napl says:

      Your Morning Bells are excellent as a general statement. This one is exceptional. Concise, correct and straight to the point. This is an issue the must continue on until it is substantially addressed.

      Keep up the great work!!!

    28. Ron in Chandler AZ says:

      I worked in government, albeit at the municipal level, for 36 years. Before that, I worked for the General Motors Corporation and I served in the Army as an Infantryman. I have also worked for small companies.

      During my career in government I rose to the level of upper management and had numerous occasions to deliberate on matters of job performance and motivation. It didn't take long to figure out that I had only one tool to use in my efforts to improve job performance and efficiency of my employees. Unions, and their political efforts have made it virtually impossible to manage as one would in the private sector. In private business, a manager can set standards and goals, and reasonably expect employees to meet them. That just isn't so in government because if a manager resorts to disciplinary measures for failure to comply with standards of conduct or performance, or failure to achieve productivity standards, he or she will find themselves embroiled in a nasty, bitter process in which their is no assurance of success. Managers can't even count on the support of top management — top management is almost always acutely sensitive to political winds and like politicians, they almost always can be expected to act according to their own best self-interests. Protected classes are almost untouchable. To further complicate the manager's job, he/she must always be mindful of his/her popularity with employees. If you push too hard, you will be judged draconian, discredited, and thought to be a problem. Top management always values peace and harmony over just about all else. That gets us back to the manager's only tool — motivation.

      Unfortunately, motivating government employees can be very difficult. A manager in the private sector can motivate employees because it's obvious, and unarguable, that their company must be competitive if it is to survive in the marketplace. There, that argument is easy to understand because if an employee wants job security, the company must survive. In government, however, the employee knows that no matter how poorly the organization performs, their job is certain to be there next year because they're the only game in town — there is no competition.

      That leaves "the right thing to do" argument. Using this approach, the manager appeals to employees' sense of duty, honor, and responsibility. This approach can improve performance of the organization, but only so long as employees remain convinced of the truth of the manager's argument. Once the argument sounds like the "same old thing" it loses credibility, particularly if effort is involved. Union's often promote an adversarial relationship between employees and management in order to establish themselves as necessary protector's of the organization's employees.

      To be sure, there are many top-notch employees in government. But the argument that the government workforce is superior to the private sector is laughable at best, and downright deceptive.

    29. Barry S says:

      Nothing will be done. The federal government and associated agencies are so entrenched that the common citizen-taxpayer ultimately has little or no say in the everyday laws and regulations that affect him. Our Founding Fathers would have been appalled at what has happened to our country…..right under our noses.

      Unionized government employees, once employed, have almost unlimited job security, regardless of poor performance. We end up paying for this incompetence where we like it or not. Voting members of Congress out of office is one thing, but how can we vote bureaucrats out? The answer: we can't. The government can't exist unless it creates regulations, requiring more bureaucrats to enforce those regulations. Of course, this is nothing less than a built-in incentive to create………..more regulations! It strangles business and weakens the economy, and holds voters hostage to massive waste. If such waste happened in a private-sector business, that business would rapidly dissolve due to loss of bottom-line profits.

      Governments have no such restrictions; if they operate in the red, they can always raise taxes……….regardless of the wishes of taxpayers. This little fact will raise its ugly head in January.

    30. Linda California says:

      I retired from the federal government after many years. I was one of the employees who beleived in doing my job. I cared about the employees. As the years went by I saw fewer and fewer who put in even an eight hour day. A degree got them in and kept them moving up no matter whether the person knew the job. I worked in a high cost of living area. Our pay was not comparable to all positions in the private sector in our locality pay area. Even so, I do feel I was well paid. I could have done so much more if only others around me did their fair share. I never forgot who paid our salary-the tax payers. To a certain extent work is tied in with performance. However, there is always a way to get around whatever has been tried. Nothing seems to work due to the political nature of the facilities. I finally gave up hoping. Keep in mind many large companies pay all the benefits. Government employees do pay a portion.

      Thanks,

    31. George Colgrove, Arl says:

      Joe,

      Numerous Feds put in their time, especially those where the rubber hits the pavement. I have sincere appreciation of the efforts by the men and women in uniform. The people you describe are not bureaucrats and their office minions. There are pockets of professionalism in the bureaucratic realms, but more than likely, much of what they do is make-work to keep idle feds busy.

    32. KLIMAX says:

      The Federal employees will never see pay based on performance because it takes a act of Congress to fire anyone who holds a Federal position!! The Federal employees will never see their wages go down like the private sector is being driven down because NObama allows illegal aliens to hold jobs and does next to nothing to stop it!! WE DO NOT NEED AMNESTY Which is the same as rewarding illegals for breaking OUR laws !! NObama and the Democrats will get theirs in November at the polls election day !!! ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT NOT AMNESTY !!!!

    33. Pingback: Federal government overpaid $47 billion a year

    34. Geppetto says:

      The seniority pay raise system is classic Union policy which encourages all union members to only perform as per the contract job description. Employee attempts to take on additional job responsibility are aggressively discouraged by roving Shop Stewards. Unions are the great equalizer that is revered by Obama and the Left; it brings everyone down to the lowest possible denominator, eliminates pay for performance, since all perform identically, or else, and promotes disrespect for any employer authority or policy that does not fit within the Union guidelines. It is a classic self defeating attitude that benefits only the Unions to the detriment of employers and invites Socialist government takeovers of effected industries, too big to fail, putting taxpayers on the hook for the exorbitant employee wages and benefits and the inevitable perpetual financial losses that ensue. Goodbye entrepreneur, goodbye innovation, goodbye the free market, goodbye Capitalism. There is no better example of this than the Civil Service and its alarming growth but any attempt to equalize government employee wages and benefits with the private sector will require an administration with the courage and conviction of a Ronald Reagan to handle the huge strikes that will undoubtedly occur. Imagine filling those jobs with non-union employees from among the millions who are currently unemployed and imagine the chaos that will follow. Call out the National Guard! This is bitter medicine that requires a bitter pill that will not go down without a bitter fight. Whoever takes it on had better be prepared for a brief political career. This is the dark box that our collective complacency has put us in. Let's hope we have not already passed the proverbial tipping point.

    35. Rick says:

      I am a Federal government employee, and a retired Naval Reserve officer.

      No, I am not "in it for the money." I am well-paid, and believe I work hard to deserve that pay.

      Over the years, when I have "tested the waters" outside government, I was surprised that salaries were higher for similar work at the contractors who supported my office. I did find my job security was better and chose to remain where I was, building equity in service time, seniority, and credit toward retirement. I did not get any government "stock options" similar to those I obtained in the early 1980s on my sojourn to a government contractor.

      My benefits have held steady or eroded slightly over the past few years.

      I am not a member of a union. I have certain protections as a member of the Civil Service (GS), but am subject to several of the same stressors and administrative burdens as any employee outside government.

      While I remain to be convinced of the magnitude of the gulf you state exists between government and non-government worker compensation (pay and benefits), I am convinced that in many cases, management problems have pushed non-government employee compensation downward.

      We are in a rush toward the bottom in many of the living standards we have become used to having in recent years.

      As we learn to compete in the global environment, I remain hopeful that we can live without envy toward those who completed their work under regimes and environments that no lnger exist. Persons who worked for 30-40 years and reached retirement age deserve the full benefits they signed up for.

      We may indeed, as has been true across our nation, be changing the "rules of engagement" for all who now follow us. I hope we can do this fairly, and with minimal adverse impacts that might lead to class envy/class warfare.

      Based on your reporting and on the comments your reports stimulate, I am not sure that this hope can be realized.

    36. Don Broome says:

      Let's see if I understand this – the disparity between private sector and Federal employ compensation is due largely to better educated Federal employees?? Oh, my goodness, where to start: On average, it takes 5 years to "fire" a lazy, unqualified Government employee; Testing for skills level is passe; now, you just "self-certify"; If you are a union member, you basically tell management(?) to pound sand; 30 days vacation per annum; you are actually producing nothing; there is no accountability, and if you behave yourself, fantastic retirement benefits await you; Thanks for working so diligently FOR ME

    37. Charlie, Louisiana says:

      Get real. The disparity between Feds and Private sector employees is “exactly opposite” from what you say and USA Today magazine is hardly an authority to be trusted. FOR the same job, Fed employees get paid less than Private sector employees, especially in middle management, GS 9-13. The pay gap is 20%, but in the other direction. I retired after 31 years making only $74,000 a year with a Masters Degree in Forest Mensuration. Had I chosen industry, my counterparts all made well over $100,000 for the equivalent job. The GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office) has long noted the disparity,,, IT is Congress who notoriously refuses to close the gap. The benefits you want to plunder only make up for some of the pay gap. You also need to know that merit pay has been inching it’s way into federal compensation now for some years and will become more viable, especially in terms of retention of talented workers, as we progress. This article was inflammatory and bogus. I have come to expect better reporting from you and am greatly disappointed in the cheap shot you took.

    38. MN J says:

      So true, so sad, and frankly, so unfair and unjust.

      Don’t know if performance pay will work b/c those in power got where they got without performance incentives so how can they even design incentives? And would they subject themselves to those incentives? Risk-averse people don’t and most govt employees tend towards the risk-averse.

      Another point – when one leaves their job in the private sector, their pension payment (if they get one) is fixed, period. There are no COLAs or any other increases in pension payment. I’m not sure at the federal level but at state and local levels, government employees get pension pay raises. This is just nuts – it’s paying someone who retired with “yesterday’s dollars” with “today’s dollars.”

      Just amazing how the secure government (mostly Democrat) workers complain about the private sector when it’s the private sector that actually pays their salaries. The fact that some of their salaries is returned to the government does not negate the fact that their salaries are paid for by the private, wealth creation sector of the nation.

    39. Pat Nelson, CA says:

      I laughed when I read the part about federal employees making suggestions to save money. Talk about the fox in the hen house. As for budget cutting ideas, how about somebody, anybody start paying attention to the YouCut program, with ideas (and votes!) right from the citizens. That’s representational government.

    40. Faye.......Ga says:

      In reality, a good number of the Federal job positions could & should be done by our military men/women!!! Thus, saving evenmore money than I can imagine. No doubt, none of us will live long enough to see the Federal Gov't. implement a solution to all the corruption that prevails. However, it's immoral what our elected officials are doing to this great Nation!!! Come November, please vote these leeches out of their positions in Washington!!!

    41. sandra earl says:

      Article about federal employees is exactly correct. Also if an employee isn’t really performing the only way they got rid of them was to promote them. That was when I was a federal employee working at a navy base. Also if you were a grade 5 and took a job as a grade 6 and later decided to apply for a job that was a grade 4 you had to go to the pay on the scale that was at least equal if not more than you were making. So much for our Government.

    42. Jim, MD says:

      As with yesterday’s USAToday article, this USAToday article is also incorrect. It makes for nice headlines, it generates hate, and raises internet revenue via ads, but what it doesn’t do is tell the truth.

      Look at the 1800+ comments posted to the article and you will find quite a number of current and former federal employees asking where these over paid people are, because they don’t make what the article says.

      The numbers were cooked to make the article work for the writer who as given the assignment by his editor.

      So, since the information presented in the article is not true, who stands to benefit from it?

      Let’s not just dog pile on something without just because it feels good. I expected something more from the Heritage Foundation.
      Jim D,

    43. Sherri, Dayton, Ohio says:

      I'm a big fan of The Heritage Foundation, but I don't think trashing Government work is good for your organization. The Fed Govt benefits aren't as exorbitant as you claim. My husband and I both have been working Civil Service for the Air Force for about 25 years. We both recently cancelled paying for life insurance through our work because we got it cheaper with more coverage elsewhere. Also, we pay over $200 a month for our health insurance (and I just paid $170 for a filling replacement at the dentist because my insurance didn't cover it). And, we contribute $33,000 a year to our Thrift Savings Plans and the Government matches us 5%. That's a big chunk that we pay, but we wouldn't have much to retire on if we didn't contribute. I'm not complaining, I just don't think our benefits are that inordinate. Regarding the pay, from my experience, the Federal Government needs to pay somewhat well in order to attract and retain quality people, otherwise we get the 'leftovers'.

    44. Mike, North Carolina says:

      Oh Conservatives with what are called "dangerous, antiquated, archaic, out-dated ideas"!

      Since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote such marvelous, wonderful, omniscient Statist master-strokes as the "Communist Manifesto", don't you see it yet? Don't you see such a pearl of great price wisdom as the belief that becoming a member of, or, for that matter, working for the Politburo (government) somehow magically elevates above and makes an exception to the fallibility and rules which are supposed to apply to the masses (a.k.a. the so-called "private sector")?

      So of course the relative few in the so-called "public (government) sector" must rule, prevail, and be treated as exceptions, even at the expense of the people (a.k.a. "the private sector"), since, after all, the people can't be trusted to govern themselves anyway, for which even Thomas Jefferson allowed when he finished his comment of: "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer the question"…Or, considering everything else Jefferson wrote in accordance with the lessons of history, did even he really allow for that?

      Oh but yes we have found angels in the form of kings, as in the so-called “Progressive” politicians, their bureaucrats, and cronies in control in government, “government (a.k.a. “public”) unions, and elsewhere, as shown by such things as, but not limited to, the higher and better average pay and benefits which such politicians take for themselves and arrange for such as (but not limited to) both their "public" (government) union” cronies and government employees!

      Ok, now back to the real world. As for those who actually believe that what such so-called "Progressives" as Obama and his accomplices are doing is good, as in promoting the growth of government and government power, toeing the Statist line that "serving" in or for government magically elevates and makes an exception of any politician and anybody else, well, evidently they would also buy swampland on the North Pole from the same bunch of power and money-grabbing Statist so-called “Progressives” who are duplicitously leading us, the people, toward "the bread line" and ruin.

      Oh except, of course, those politicians and their cronies in government, unions, and government unions, for as long as they can make exceptions of themselves and their cronies…All the way to when they again show and prove what even Lady Margaret Thatcher said when she said that the one unavoidable dead-end about Liberalism is that you eventually run out of everybody else's money, and we have collapsed economy and rioting in the streets, same as those very recently in Greece, and so many other such times in history.

    45. Linda , Virgina says:

      Amen! in over 40 yeard working as a PT in many settings, my time at a long term VA facility was full of waste, incompetance, and lack of accountability. Now at a state institute, I find the same waste and sloth.

      All those government jokes are based on truth!

      I'm ashamed to be earning the salary I am and have heard others say the same. When I retire they'll probably fill my slot even though they don't need to but rather are over staffed.

    46. Ellen, Maryland says:

      Having been a contractor and a federal employee, I now joke that I must not be doing this civil servant thing correctly because in the last two years I worked about 9 months of unpaid overtime. When I was a contractor, I was paid for that time.

      You can't generalize about federal employees – many of my coworkers are are similarly workaholics with high stress jobs that are not 9-5. We can't turn off the phone on vacation. When I was a contractor, my work load was much much lighter than it is as a civil servant. And I know that contractor coworkers make significantly more – when offered federal job opportunities they say the couldn't afford the pay cut.

      Congress is definitely overpaid. The benefits many mention here have been phased out. We have a 401K-type retirement plan call our Thrift Savings Plan with about 5 funds to choose from and a very small annuity based on salary and years of service. We don't get these pensions that represent a 50 – 80% of your salary. And while we have many health insurance options, I wouldn't call them Cadillac plans. I still pay a lot for prescriptions and our dental plan is not competitive. I can't comment on major medical because I haven't had to use anything like that. But I can say my health benefits were better with my all the private companies I worked for (4 aerospace and defense contractors). I work for a very specialized agency of scientists and engineers. The slackers I know are few and far between.

      I don't trust USA Today. When I get a free copy delivered to my hotel room door – I toss it. It's almost as bad as MSNBC.

    47. Joe, Orlando Florida says:

      I appreciate the comments in the last paragraph. I used to think I that all federal employees were alway on the clock doing the minimum until I worked closely with them, while on active duty, and was impressed with the work ethic by those developing and testing aircarft and weapon systems for the USMC and Navy. Impressed so much so that I passed up an offer to work in the private sector that would have paid me $40K more a year for my equivalent position in the Government when I left active duty. I can’t speak for those working in Washington but, were the rubber meets the road the desire to get those in battle what they need to win our wars is paramont and to the point of working without compensation because they want to.

    48. Cyrus Jones says:

      This is shocking. There is NO way that government employees are more educated/valuable than private-sector employees.

    49. Peggy, Overland Park says:

      Can we say Imperial Government?

      Makes me sick how governement workers are given all sorts of breaks in addition to the ability to "save" for retirment and not have to contribute to Social Security on top of all the other perks.

      We took a trip with some friends who got to stay in a "government hotel" on a military base that is actually there for military personnel who are in transition from one assignment to another. We had to shell out for a "civilian" hotel at regular retail rates; they stayed in a suite with kitchen, etc. for less than half of what we paid. What really got me was the way they made reservations was essentially the same way anyone does: call and check avaiability, set your trip to the available dates, and ….Poof! you have a hotel reservation at rates well below PriceLine!

      And they call the independent businessman "greedy"! Guess if you are on the receiving end, it's great.

    50. Frank, Orlando says:

      I agree that there is about 10% of the government employees that do 85% of the work. I have worked over 20 years as a contract employee for various government agencies, not a civil servant. Having seen this laziness and gross incompetence of many of them. The gov. employees who will work are taken advantage of and are treated like dogs. The harder they work the more work their supervisors heap on them. Being a contractor I had to submit to all kinds of abuse and might as well been a slave. There was gross nepotism also. They claimed it can't happen but I saw the child of someone being hired by the father of another child in a different agency and back and forth. I have seen a clerk being giving a week of training in writing computer code and being advanced to the position of a programmer or system analysis. The system is corrupt throughout. The waste of office supplies and equipment. I have seen perfectly good stuff being thrown out and then they go to the supply department and load up with what they just put in the dumpster.

    51. Tom K says:

      Start by cutting the white house staff down to what is needed, instead of what makes all of their friends happy,any one over regular staff should come out of the presidents pocket,his personal travels, let him pay for,he has spent far to much on him self and his family and friends.This man is sucking us all AMERICANS dry.

    52. Russ Sebring Fl. says:

      ? With the economy in the tank, all the pundits, the left, right and all the ones in between, are exalting

      their cause and solution to the problem. But nothing has stopped the ebb and tide of the economy.

      I guess I will weight in with my opinion. To start with, the ratio between goods and services is

      proportional or relative to technology.

      When the pilgrims first came to this country, they had to grow their own food and build their

      own house. They had little or no food to exchange for a service. While we are talking small, we can

      describe the problem. If the farmer takes the family to a restaurant The only thing the farmer could do is

      to charge the dinner. If the farmer had a little technology and grew more food than he could use then he

      would have something to exchange for his dinner. So the only way to measure the ratio between goods

      and services is debt.

      In theory all debt is bad. But in practice we have to put up with some debt. Is a mortgage really a

      debt? The bank owns the property. As the monthly mortgage payment is made the ownership is

      gradually transferred. Where the debt comes in is when the income is below the requirement for the

      monthly payment. This goes for autos, appliances, etc. Debt for short lived goods like food, vacations

      etc. is bad.. This debt has no collateral.

      In the public sector the spending on service was held to what was affordable, that is until the

      credit card was introduced.. The government sector is a whole different story. The Government as a

      whole is a service industry and is a monopoly. Therefore the cost of government must be added to the

      service of the private sector. The government has grown immensely and getting bigger. How big does

      the government have to get or has gotten to unbalance the ratio of goods and services? Because of the

      huge government debt, I would say that the government is way, way too big. The negative balance of

      trade has some effect on the debt. When the trade is in balance then the income and taxes of the exports

      balances the lack of the income and taxes of the imports. When we have a trade deficit we lose the

      income and taxes of the imports.

      “In economics, the Laffer curve is used to illustrate the idea that increases in the rate of

      taxation do not necessarily increase tax revenue. . Increasing taxes beyond the peak of the curve point

      will decrease tax revenue….” Have we reached this point on the curve?

      The only way to pay down this debt is to reduce the size of government.

      When a politician is elected to office they take an oath to uphold the constitution.

      Once they are elected they think they can do anything without regards to the constitution. Where is the

      judicial branch of government?

    53. Blair, Franconia, NH says:

      The SAVE Award? As the Valley Girls said in the '80s, "Like gag me with a spoon."

      Is Obama freakin' nuts? He must be because he's definitely on another planet. The

      stimulus spending isn't working. He's only digging the hole deeper. Hey, Mr. President, when you're in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

    54. Jessica, Afghanistan says:

      This is a dangerous article that lends itself to massive group-think and assumption. Each individual applies this article's message to the one tiny sector of the government for which they have personal knowledge. Let me clearly state that you would be amazed at what GS10-12's are doing in the warzones – and I do NOT mean state dept bureaucrats. Before you condemn us all, please think twice about that broad brush some of you are using. Yes, the government is overhiring now due to Obama's need to over-regulate and to establish investigative panels left and right to discover things we already know. Heck, his only experience is a few years as a newby legislator. He doesn't know what else to do so he throws bodies and money at a problem. Sound familiar? I'm just saying that this broad brush really does not apply to a whole sector of worker-bees in the GS10-12 categories and federal agencies are NOT all created equal. Believe me, I get just as upset knowing that I could quit this job and go push paper somewhere and start as a GS14 based on my resume. I could also go corporate and make about 1/3 more. This type of article is simply hogwash due to the egregiously broad brush that some individuals wish to apply to all of us – even those of us barely paying our mortgage in the Washington DC area – who have been serving in the warzons for years – and are being told there will be almost no promotions again this year due to overhiring above us. I can't even touch upon congress' self-voted pay raise. It really does disgust me when I know most of them can't even point out the difference between Kabul and Kandahar on a map.

    55. Robert N Ivy; Dawson says:

      Maybe our representatives and senators will step up to the plate and agree to work for nothing and recend their retirement and health benefits. This would be true statesmanship and show the rest of the government employees the proper way to cut costs. Fat chance this will happen but you can always think big.

    56. Russ Sebring Fl. says:

      ? With the economy in the tank, all the pundits, the left, right and all the ones in between, are exalting
      their cause and solution to the problem. But nothing has stopped the ebb and tide of the economy.
      I guess I will weight in with my opinion. To start with, the ratio between goods and services is
      proportional or relative to technology.
      When the pilgrims first came to this country, they had to grow their own food and build their
      own house. They had little or no food to exchange for a service. While we are talking small, we can
      describe the problem. If the farmer takes the family to a restaurant The only thing the farmer could do is
      to charge the dinner. If the farmer had a little technology and grew more food than he could use then he
      would have something to exchange for his dinner. So the only way to measure the ratio between goods
      and services is debt.
      In theory all debt is bad. But in practice we have to put up with some debt. Is a mortgage really a
      debt? The bank owns the property. As the monthly mortgage payment is made the ownership is
      gradually transferred. Where the debt comes in is when the income is below the requirement for the
      monthly payment. This goes for autos, appliances, etc. Debt for short lived goods like food, vacations
      etc. is bad.. This debt has no collateral.
      In the public sector the spending on service was held to what was affordable, that is until the
      credit card was introduced.. The government sector is a whole different story. The Government as a
      whole is a service industry and is a monopoly. Therefore the cost of government must be added to the
      service of the private sector. The government has grown immensely and getting bigger. How big does
      the government have to get or has gotten to unbalance the ratio of goods and services? Because of the
      huge government debt, I would say that the government is way, way too big. The negative balance of
      trade has some effect on the debt. When the trade is in balance then the income and taxes of the exports
      balances the lack of the income and taxes of the imports. When we have a trade deficit we lose the
      income and taxes of the imports.
      “In economics, the Laffer curve is used to illustrate the idea that increases in the rate of
      taxation do not necessarily increase tax revenue. . Increasing taxes beyond the peak of the curve point
      will decrease tax revenue….” Have we reached this point on the curve?
      The only way to pay down this debt is to reduce the size of government.
      When a politician is elected to office they take an oath to uphold the constitution.
      Once they are elected they think they can do anything without regards to the constitution. Where is the
      judicial branch of government?

    57. Pingback: Court Rejects Bid To Preserve Halt In Drilling | Rubber Donkey.org

    58. Dennis ILLINOIS says:

      Here we go again, just what constitutes an "overly generous" pension? I retired from the USPS ten years ago, my retirement was based on my high 3 years which comes out to about 20 thousand a year, subtract health-care insurance on my wife and I anf that brings it to about 15 hundred a month. Now my brother was a member of the UAW and worked for GM he gets 80% of his pay. So tell me again about those "Overly generous" goverment pensions.

    59. Sue Marie, Detroit says:

      My Dad was a federal employee. Never went to college but made a good living as a administrator. Great retirement benefits and made more income retired than employed. On the other hand my husband with a Doctorate Of Law works for the private sector never got and never will have the benefits my father enjoys.

    60. Donna, Colorado says:

      I am a retired Federal Employee and a Retired (no benefits yet) Army National Guard Officer. I worked for 23 years for the Army National Guard as a Civil Service Technician. I can't state for sure that based on the number of unpaid overtime I worked that I was not overpaid. There are some sectors of our government that might need a real look and cuts in the number of employees. I don't believe that all Federal Employees are overpaid. What a broad generalization. As for USA Today, that is such a fluff newspaper– can you take anything you read in that paper seriously?

    61. smart1 says:

      Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I can assure you that most public sector workers could not hold a private sector job……..and most of them don't even realize it…

    62. Tim, Midland, TX says:

      Free Enterprise. So let's fix the problem of overpaid GL-08 federal correctional officers by cutting their pay and benefits via new federal laws, just like the liberals do. That way, these idle officers, who frequently work within a 1 staff to 80+ inmate ratio, with nothing more on their person than a uniform, a set of keys, a handie-talkie radio, and one set of handcuffs, can continue their "gravy-train" careers with less fat on the plate.

      And don't forget Senator Coburn, R-OK, stating: "There is no guarantee to your Federal pension based on the economics we face today in this country. If you think it is guaranteed, you have another thought coming because the world economic system is going to determine whether we can honor that pension. That is what is coming. We are very close."

      Free Enterprise: Where contracts can be breached by the contracting authority because, "Hey, times are tough."

    63. Geppetto says:

      Here's a solution to this problem; privatization. The Post Office, DMV, Amtrak, etc. Give the American public private options to services currently monopolized by the civil service. The free market will force these inefficient, bloated bureaucracies to either compete or be choked out of business and will level the employee playing field which will self adjust to the new reality. Is there any doubt that, given the opportunity, American ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit could not develop far more efficient, profitable enterprises that could perform viable functions cheaper and better?

    64. geo milo says:

      con caroll or whatever, is able to put out shoddy articles in heritage just like the kooks in time and newsweek, if you want to be an affective reporter of conservative thought then do your homework. This article is at best,10 %accurate, might as well junk in the new york times

    65. Teri in Illinois says:

      My husband works for the federal government and all we hear is how overpaid he must be. He has TWO bachelor degrees from a prestigious university and is a double certified mechanical and nuclear engineer. His skill set in the private sector is worth more than twice the money he makes as a federal employee, but he wants to serve his country and likes his job. He's been uprooted from his home state when they moved his job to Virginia and then again in 2007 we were uprooted and told we had to move to Illinois where our taxes are horrendous–more than twice as high as we were paying in Virginia! I had to sell my business and start over in Illinois when I had a successful business in Virginia. The people who are overpaid are the low-skill workers who are paid twice what they are worth in the private sector for menial jobs that come with federal benefits. There are 20 of them for every highly skilled worker like my husband who is constantly courted by headhunters but is a patriot and serves his country and ISN'T a union member–but has to deal with all of the insane work rules in place for those who are union members. It's a nightmare of red tape and insanity to try and get anything done and it's impossible to fire incompetent workers–I would be ripping my hair out if I had to deal with what he goes through every day!

    66. Karl Pittsburgh says:

      Yeah but wait a minute, if we paid government workers on the basis of "pay for performance", then that would mean their supervisors would have to do the hard work that supervisors do — make judgments about who is performing and who is not and then take the action necessary to ensure performance. Wouldn't that be contrary to the Socialist viewpoint of "one for all and all for one"? I got a better idea, zero-base budget the entire local, state, and federal bureaucracies making them justify their existence every year. Hey that effort by itself would keep them busy most of the year and then they couldn't mess up the rest of our country in the meantime.

    67. Stu, Bedford, NH says:

      I always cringe when I see these comparisons because having worked for 24 years for the FAA, my wife having worked 38 years for the Postal Service, and my having also worked 16+ years in private industry, I have seen both sides. There are the same issues on both sides of the fence. Both private industry and government have people who have been elevated to their height of incompetence, both have favoritism in hiring and pay, both have workers who give 150% to their jobs, both have workers who barely perform their jobs. It depends on which income strata you compare whether there are big differences, but the government has many lower paid people who work many years and certainly don't live in luxury after retirement. If you really want to see some "slush" money being made, examine the many contracts government has with private companies – I've seen some absurd jobs in that field, total rip-offs.

      In relation to benefits, if companies gave the same benefits to their employees as government has, perhaps some companies would still have loyal employees performing quality work. Instead, we now have many companies treating employees poorly, providing few benefits, and who picks up the bill? The taxpayers, through the myriad of Government programs designed to help the "poor", the uneducated, the sick, the uninsured, etc. How much does the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. cost taxpayers in providing benefits to people whose companies failed to live up to their pension obligations and shoved the costs off onto taxpayers? How much do people who have not had adequate healthcare available while working, cost Medicare and Medicaid after they retire? These are just two examples of costs that should be figured into the real cost of an employee in private industry, because one way or the other, they eventually get the benefits. What I'm pointing out here is that many companies in private industry, and their workers, get aid either directly or indirectly from the government, and those costs should be added into what it cost those companies to operate. Then you'd see that the price difference per employee is no where the gap that you get simply by looking at wages and benefits.

    68. Fred Thompson says:

      Public sector unions are finding themselves on the defensive, as more state and local governments attempt to reduce the generous benefit packages provided to most public sector employees across the nation. Unions complain that government employees are being unfairly vilified, and that they are not to blame for the poor financial practices that led to pension underfunding. While many states have made changes to pensions, most of these only affect new hires. Some states have resorted to unpaid furloughs for government employees, but have faced several lawsuits over the practice from public employee unions.

    69. Fred Thompson says:

      Even though superintendents in New York are not able to earn overtime, it doesn’t stop them from sweetening their pensions by cashing in unused time off. One superintendent did just this, by cashing in 45 vacation days and 747 sick days that he had not used over the course of his career. Though he was only making $129,000 when he retired in 2009, he now earns a pension of $147,109 per year. This problem of spiking pensions has become a trend across the state and across the county. According to the Empire Center, police and fireman are infamous for spiking because of the amount of overtime they are allowed to work. In 2000, there was less than 2 percent of police and fireman making pensions of over $100,000; however, in 2009, that number rose to 13 percent. One example includes a retired fire chief who made a base pay of $71,524, yet was able to spike his pension to $125,930 annually. However, the “highest pension award” goes to the Long Island superintendent, who not only collects a $316,245 annual pension as of 2008, but also makes $225,000 annually on top of that, by going back to work for a different Long Island school district.

    70. woodley says:

      love wroking doining dis

    71. George Colgrove says:

      Stu,

      I get what you say. I have seen incompetence in both private and public sectors as well. However, this is not the point. Both entities are not the same. A Private sector company can hire whomever they want. If he or she turns out to be a dud, the company will suffer or the person will get fired. That is just that, the company will suffer, not the whole country. That private sector dud is being paid for by the profit that company is making. His or her impact on the grand scope of things is infinitesimal.

      A public sector employee's salary is based on the hard work of lower paid taxpayers. The average fed earns $67,000 whereas his or her private sector counterpart earns $60,000 (2008 numbers). Assuming the average $60K household pays upwards of $6000 in federal taxes it can take 11 households to pay for a single average fed. For your GS13, 14 and 15's who are on an exponential growth chart, it can take upwards of 25 or more households to pay for him or her. This person's ineptitude is robbing 25 households of hard earned resources that could have gone elsewhere in their lives. The fact you acknowledge ineptitude in the federal government is shocking enough. There should be none! The average fed is in a relationship with the taxpayer that every hour they put into their work is full and worthwhile. To have otherwise is fraud. Why do we give a week in May to recognize public service? There is an assumption of sacrifice. Personally, I dont see it. Public service is based on public trust that what we are paying for is solid worthwhile effort. What a private sector employee does or does not do is irrelevant except to that company alone.

      Failure and ineptitude at higher positions can and has had negative impacts on the whole country!

      More importantly, there are low paid people everywhere. Yes there are low paid feds earning low incomes. I am tired of feds pointing to these as a way to obfuscate facts. Private sector retail is low paying, the few remaining factory workers get low pay. There are low paying jobs everywhere. But the fact is, feds on average get paid more in compensation and benefits than the private sector.

      As for your comments on strange useless jobs that contractors have within government contracts, remember it was a fed who wrote that spec. And more than likely did so with the awarded company in mind. No federal contracted job is created in the private sector. If such a stupid job formed by some malicious act by the contractor it was done so under a supervising fed who was not doing their job.

    72. Rod, MD says:

      A federal agency now relocating to the area, is ripping off the taxpayer. There are grads straight from college, with non-science/technical degrees, no experience, that would be lucky to find a $30K job, if any, in the private sector. Interns are starting here at $35-$45K and after 4 years, advancing to $80-$90K. The most non-deserving individuals, politically connected "supervisor pets", are just handed promotions at the $90K(GS-13) level. Paid to take notes at pointless meetings, place info on spreadsheeets, and forward chain emails. It's ashame this exists because some individuals actually work hard to move up the chain, and are promoted to hard working supervisor positions. This has to stop, but how? Can't take it anymore and am leaving this organization.

    73. Mark, CA says:

      I don't know if Rod was referring to the DC area, but his discussion reminded me of a instance of meeting someone 'in training' while I was on a field assignment. He was just hired a few montrhs prior and was all but guaranteed a promotion to GS-13 in two years when he returned to DC. Meanwhile, after 15 years I had only gotten to GS-12 Step 5 or so, since as a field activity (outside of DC) our pay rate was limited to GS-12. That's tough to take when you have a technical degree and someone else gets advanced over you but you have the same case in industry as well.

      Something not mentioned in the Heritage paper is that the federal government has already made changes over the years to make the retirement system more similar to private industry. The 'generous' defined benefit pensions that may have once been the case are no more. If I were to take EARLY retirement at age 56, I would get roughly 30% of my salary. Compare that to the 70-80% offered by some companies (although that may be for age 65; in which case I get about 45%) We also have the 401k defined contribution, similar to what many private companies also offer. We also pay into Social Security. All in all, not too different from private companies, at least for retirement.

      Also, since I have started, the federal government has implemented locality pay in place of the prior national scale. On one hand this was good for those in high-cost areas and was needed to better match what private industry offered. Unfortunately the actual implementation removed the pay incentive for highly skilled workers since the locality pay for all workers generally exceeds the pay scale for the ones in high demand (i.e. engineers, IT, and medical) so everyone ends up being paid at the same rate. So yes, there are some occupations that are now overpaid in comparison to the private sector but other occupations still lag.

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