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  • Federal Workers Need Reality, Not Raises

    Yesterday the USA Today reported that not only has the number of federal workers making more than $150,000 a year doubled since President Barack Obama took office, but that President Obama wants to give federal workers a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise.

    The two government union spokespeople in the article both claim that federal workers earn less than their private sector counterparts, but as Heritage Foundation senior labor policy analyst James Sherk has detailed that simply is not true.

    Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS) for 2006 through 2009, Sherk found 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?

    If anything the next Congress should be identifying ways to reduce spending on federal worker salaries, not raising them.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Federal Workers Need Reality, Not Raises

    1. Bobbie says:

      This guy protects his undeserving own while he compromises the security of the elderly we all pay for. He lessens funding in his constitutional duty to protect America that equally benefits all Americans (defense.) His priorities are crystal and criminal, dangerously big government to burden with endless hardship, the livelihoods of the people. He's a thief, a criminal, and really indecent.

      If anyone should have equal pay it should be those in government. At minimum wage w/probation until they can prove they're working with, not against America so the mistake we are struggling with doesn't happen again.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      With every corporate scandal there has been a corresponding law that restricts that behavior, even though the repeat of such things would be unlikely. Moreover, each time these laws are made government grows. The events that took place in Bell, CA this year and the soaring federal employee salaries at a time when the American economy is at its lowest in decades require similar restrictive legislation. However this time against the government. It is no secret public employee unions and weak elected officials are at the core of this problem.

      First, the law needs to require the federal government departments and agencies to consolidate each separate payroll sections into a single consolidated payroll service. This should be done in six months upon passing the law. This service should be put under the GSA. There should no longer be any distinction of departmental originations as far as a government paycheck goes. All paper stubs should be eliminated with such pay related information being available online for AT HOME printing.

      The second part of this clause is that in the following six months request for proposals should be sent out to corporate payroll systems to have the entire federal work force pay be managed by a private sector corporation. In the DC area alone there are numerous payroll services that can perform this duty: Corpay. Paychex, NetPay, Pay-it, ADP, ECCA Payroll Service, A A Payroll Service, National Payroll Corp, American Payroll, AmCheck and so on. This pay service will also be charged with providing the entire organizational tree online for easy public access. This will include all of the federal government from the president on down to the last entry-level GS01 employee. It will be complete with position titles, job class title, pay grade and position numbers and names and contact information only for federal employees who manage other federal employees or federal programs (that what would be the current GS13, GS14 and GS15 as well as the SES and appointed or elected employees.) Also the number of employees in each department and department branch shall be posted along with the entire payroll costs for those department and branches both as a sum and as a percentage of the total budget for that branch.

      Also all governmental website development shall be contracted to a single private sector company for development and maintenance. No department should be performing this task with federal employees. The federal government should then consolidate all Human Resource departments into a single entity and run the HR access through this single website. Join this with the terrific work Monster.com has provided the federal government with the USAJob.gov website.

      The federal government and these two companies will need to work together to provide basic federal employee services in break neck speed as well as providing the general public with job postings and easy to use online job application process in the same manner as what Monster.com has provided the federal government with USAjob.gov.

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      A public employee law should be written to limit the abuse caused by public employee unions. These issues must be hammered out:

      1) Job one; reduce congressional salaries by 10% of the 2009 rates. In addition, cap the allotted spending each congressional office is allowed. This should be the same amount regardless of time spent in office or whether they are a Senator or House member. Any addition spending must either come out of their own pockets or they can petition their respective states for additional funds. All congressional accounting must be fully transparent and available upon demand by the media and individuals. Congressional spending is also through the roof.

      2) Limit the impact public employee unions have. End closed-shop practices. Allow any public employees (including teachers) the option to join or not to join any employee association or union they wish to join or not join. Take away the ability for unions or associations to negotiate benefits and pay by legislating that.

      3) Every federal job shall be analyzed and categorized in simply defined classes and linked with similar private sector job classes. This work must be done by private sector companies with no government oversight. The job class analysts must keep in mind several federal positions are performing a single task that can be one of many tasks performed by a typical private sector employee. Educational requirements must also be analyzed to get an accurate job class definition. The analysis team must be able to get through all the obfuscations the federal employee will have in protecting their contrived credentials.

      4) Federal (public) employee’s base pay should be indexed to the private sector averages for the newly defined job class and time served in that job. Additional pay should be provided to “security” or “hazard prone” jobs. In other words, where the federal employee’s life or physiological welfare is in jeopardy while performing the duties of the job. There are security jobs where people set in front of computer screens doing analysis work. This type of job does not qualify. This should be tabulated and posted for easy access on the newly created federal consolidated HR website.

      5) The legislation should prohibit people of the same “grade” reporting to one another. In other words, the legislation should prevent top-heavy organizations from forming. If the system is indexed to private sector practices this should not be a problem, but it should be stated regardless.

      6) A federal (public) employee should earn no less than 75% and no more than 100% of the indexed salary for their job as spelled out above. This linkage to the private sector will be incentive for public officials and employees to make sure the private sector is doing well – so they do well.

      7) No government body shall provide benefits directly (health, life, dental, vision care, etc). These should be acquired by the employee through private sector benefits brokers. Government bodies shall be required to pay no less than 75% and no more than 100% of what the average private sector employer pays. Using average percentages from the private sector, the amount paid will be the lesser of the percentage of the employee benefits or a percentage of employee pay or an overall payment cap defined by the overall average of what the private sector provides. This can be a payment made directly to the broker or to the employee. Regardless, this should be considered pay above the base salary. The employee must provide proof of benefits to the government for payment. Employees who opt out in purchasing any benefits from a broker will not get any additional pay. This will enhance competition in these services and should drive cost down. It will also help corporations shed this burden as they can participate in this process as well.

      8) Provide a pension honesty clause. We have to address this issue head on. Public employees have the right to their principal plus any accrued interest that is customary for the average private sector investment gains. Anything beyond that was a promise that could never be honored. This is bankrupting all levels of governments. The nation is $200 trillion in the hole on unfunded entitlements – including unfunded public pension plans. This will need to properly address the seniors already drawing from or will soon be drawing from the pension plans. The law should also ban all future pension plans. There are many more effective private sector investment vehicles to choose from.

      9) The legislation should limit the holidays to what is customary within the private sector employers. Though I do believe, Veterans Day should be in that mix. That should be 9 holidays. In addition, public employees should be granted two additional personal days with the option to buy additional days out of their pay. They should also be allowed to sell their two personal days as an option if they do not wish to have them and would rather have the cash.

      10) Sick leave should have greater monitoring to eliminate abuse.

      11) Make it illegal for federal (public) employees to accept or ask for discounts at hotels, for rental cars or for any private sector product or service when it is an expense that it not reimbursable by the federal government. In other words, no personal perks. Limit public employee travel to conferences when economic times are tough.

      12) Make federal (public) employees pay for services in the same manner as they are being paid for in the private sector. In other words, the private sector – for the most part – does not pay for the metro for their employees. The federal government should not as well.

      13) Lastly, make federal employment a temporary service. This is only for the federal level and does not apply to the uniformed military services (i.e. soldiers). Essentially making it work like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and so on. Limit the number of aggregate years an employee works for the federal government to 10 years. Moreover, limit the total aggregate number of years in public service (at all levels) to 15 for federal employees. This includes service provided as a federal contractor. However, contractor employees will not be subjected to an aggregate limit if they remain in a contracted job. This will force people in government to go outside and expand themselves in the private sector and allows new ideas and energy from the private sector to be infused into the federal government. This is not to say a person cannot dedicate their lives to public service. After their time at the federal level they can still go to the state or local level for the rest of their career as an option. For people with more than 10 years, provide them with a 2-year extension to find another job. The law should also provide for one six-month extension period, which the employee must apply for the case of job transition issues. This will be an effective measure to get the employees who have lost the energy to perform at their best, out of their federal job and into something that will reenergize them.

    4. harley davidson says:

      Doubt is the key to knowledge.


      George Washington

    5. Greenley, Michigan says:

      When you couple this with the growing power of the federal employees unions you have a truly frightening prospect for the future. Look at the bond market, lower risk bonds sell for less, thus if there is less risk in government employment it should pay less. Maybe the risk should be increased, near absolute job security leads to laxity in job performance, if I do a poor job I will get fired, will a federal employee? How long will it take?

    6. Cincinnati OH says:

      Over the last half of the past century public sector jobs have undergone compensation mission creep. In decades past public sector jobs paid less than equivalent private sector positions but the discrepancy was offset with attractive benefit packages. Since then public sector salaries have been increased, bringing them equal to or high their private peers all the while maintaining the ridiculous benefit packages.

      It is time to say enough already. First, there needs to be a salary freeze for the foreseeable future. Second, the benefit packages need to be rolled back to private sector standards. Lastly, retirement benefits should only be paid upon retirement. Too many retired public employes are double dipping. In a time of record unemployment this group should either collect retirement benefits or work and defer their retirement pay.

    7. Ann Swanson, New Mex says:

      This is the second straight year that Social Security, Disabled and Military citizens have been disenfranchised as far as raises. Food has climbed, gas, electric and going into winter, so will heating. This President and it's administration has deemed it necessary to hire far more Federal workers, at exorbitant salaries with stellar benefits and now wants to give them another 1.4% raise. This is totally unacceptable to the US taxpayers. Federal salaries must be cut to be equal to what the mainstream is making. Congressional salaries must be cut to reflect the enormous amount of perks and benefits that they recieve. This has gotten entirely out of hand and must be fixed.

    8. twister says:

      The Federal Government should have a very small, well paid efficient work force. The problem today and has been for many years is that the Federal Government is nothing but a jobs program with incompetence and inefficiency rewarded while hard work is ignored – all in the name of 'affirmative action.' Eliminate affirmative action and hire only competent and qualified people and it would be amazing how things would change – for the better.

    9. Dr dbiggs,CA says:

      Pres OBOZO: "Tea Bagger-in-Chief"

      You Can LIE but can you READ?

      Invasion by illegal ie "Criminal Aliens"

      Obviously you have never read the United States Constitution or

      else feel that in your ivory tower and wealth that it does not apply to you!!

      I feel you need to read the following and act according to the peoples wish

      not your wishes or special interests wish list!

      There are three references to the words "invasions," "invaded," and

      "invasion" in our U.S. Constitution:

      Article I, Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power To Provide for calling

      forth the Militia to execute Laws of the Union, suppress

      insurrections and repel Invasions."

      Article I, Section 10:"No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any

      Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time

      of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with

      another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War,

      unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as

      will not admit of delay."

      Article IV, Section 4:"The United States shall guarantee to every State in the

      Union as Republican Form of Government, and shall

      protect each of them against invasion, and on

      Application of the Legislature, of of the Executive (when

      the Legislative cannot be convened) against domestic


      Your Oath of Office and sworn duties as referenced mean you must Act and

      put a Stop to the Invasion of all the Illegal immigrants we are experiencing.

      Our U.S. Constitution mandates that invasions shall be repelled by Congress.

      and that means the persons in the House of Representatives and the U.S.

      Senate. Our nation's sovereignty must be protected.

      How can you even stand in front of a mirror and even look yourself in the eyes

      knowing you are a "Bought & Paid Hoe" for special interests and the

      Democratic Party Hacks? Tell me I am wrong, please because I fear for the

      future of our country as you certainly don't care about the people or our


      You go to the SAME PLACE for LYING as you do for STEALING!!

    10. James Marr says:

      Federal FERS cannot retire at 56 with full benefits. The defined benefit would only be 30% of the base pay. The next piece is social security that would not be able to be gotten until 62. The lion's share of the retirement benefit is the Thrift Saving Plan. These are funds that have been matched to 5% of contributions made by the employee. That plan is not accessible until after 59.5. About the best that can be done by the average federal employee gets ia about 50% or less of their working wage.

    11. Ramon Martinez, Mary says:

      Compare apples to apples…. Job to job, Federal employees make less than their private sector counterparts. Federal employees also do not ALL make over $150,000/year. A close look will find that the "journeyman" grades for many job series are significanty below levels of their private sector counterparts.

      The real problem is in the expansion of the Federal government, leading to unnecessary and programs and "empire building" at the senior levels. The bigger the "programs" the more employees and the greater the supposed "need" for managers, directors, and others at the GS-15 and SES levels, most of whom are redundant and many of whom are without real knowledge or expertise….

    12. New York City says:

      Federal workers' salaries and all of their annual automatic step raises should be frozen until private compansation catches up, even if that means waiting ten years. All federal workers on disability should also be investigated to see if the disability is genuine or fraudulent. The latter was just announded by Brish Prime Minister Cameron as a cost-saving measure.

    13. Daniel Douglas, CT 0 says:

      Since the majority of Gov employees are paid more than the private sector, I think its time that the Federal unions need a reality check.

      Ask Governor Daniels, Indiana, what he would do!

    14. Roy Bradford, Selma, says:

      I am a stauch Conservative, but I must take exception to some of the above. I have 32 years government service. I have 4 degrees. I am the second highest grade employee in my service area. That area consists of 10 counties or almost 10,000 square miles. I work an average of 55 hours per week and I am on call 24/7. Dispite this I make less than $100,000 annual. Most of my staff make considerably less. Are there federal employees who are overpaid? Certainly, but by far the majority of those are located within the beltway of DC. My staff works very hard for their salaries. The work is complex and demanding. I request that you recognize that blanket statements about overpaying employees applies no more to the government than to varied public sector jobs.

    15. Mutantone Key west F says:

      Perhaps we should start with the pay levels that government employees get cut them all back to the levels in 1940‘s. Suspend all grants to foreign nations, eliminate all payments to the UN. Make it a flat tax of 10% for every one, including Businesses. This will allow us to eliminate the IRS. No more programs or projects until the budget is balanced. Pay as you go should be added to the constitution. Just like a family budget you have to save to make those special purchases. Surplus funds all go into a savings account. We pay the military period. Make all the federal employees pay into Social Security. Remove all US bases over seas, bring it all back home. Then we mount an aggressive move to annex all of South America and take control of those regions establishing military post with martial law in those regions. Treat them all as future states to join the Union or remain territories of the United States. Establish American laws in all these regions to eliminate drug cartels, control their resources and work forces to better their lives and way of living, with adequate wages and safe food and medical care for all.Once we reach the southern most tip of South America we ask Canada If they would like to join us.

    16. mount clemens michig says:

      The non governmental employee does only what is in their job description and nothing more or get paid more. The government employee is required to do most anything reasonably asked of them whether it is in the job description or not. The 30 and out at 56 is based on the old retirement system that ceased in 1984. If you are a FERS retiree your plan is made up of the defined benefit of 1% for every year at your high three years, so 30 years you get 30% of your pay. That is the smallest part of the retirement package. The next part is social security which you would not get unitl you were 62, not at 56. You are not able to touch your Thrift savings plan until age 59.5 not at 56. This means that you do not get your full benefits if you retired at 56 until you are 62 at the earliest. Most federal employees that retire under the FERS plan are lucky to get even 50% of their last years paychecks. You can go to the site federalsoup.com and find much of this information out. Ed Zurndorfer is an excellent resource for federal employee benefits information.

      We just need to look at all the salaries of the many new CZARS to see where many of th e150+ k jobs are.

      Everybody for gets about the huge government contractor base that has been established. This contracting out has been shown to be not cost effective based on the comment I made at the opening of this blog. Millions could be saved by shrinking this base.

    17. Mark Omaha, NE says:

      I work in the private sector and have not received a raise in two and a half years; vacation time taken; sick pay days taken; and 401K no longer matched. If I can sacrifice, so can the federal employees!

    18. Jane Ingram says:

      Why don't you quit picking on federal workers. The work they do requires them to be a cut above private sector workers.

      Their salaries would not be a problem if it weren't for Obama's overspending.

    19. KBKBKB says:

      "Gravy train?" What private sector employees fail to realize or mention in these type of stories is that government employees never receive stock options, profit-sharing or other dividends, or promotions based on a job well done or business expansion due to success. They operate under civil service rules which often keep them in the same position for years, but do so gladly in the name of providing public service. They do so because they want to help people, and the retirement benefits are often the only concession to the lack of aforementioned incentives which are found in many private sector careers.

    20. Pingback: The News Factor, an online Conservative News Magazine » ARE YOU NUTS!! Obama wants to give Federal workers a 1.4% across the board pay raise

    21. ann birchfield says:

      This article is very leaned and full of "half truths" I am a retired Federal Employee and let me help set the record straight.

      These high paid people you are speaking of must be in Wash DC as I never saw not even one in my 20 years of service at the base I was employed at. I never made it to even $50K

      . When we retire we also loose most of our Social Security which I had my complete 40 quarters before I joined Federal Service, This is an injustice that should be rectified.

      Lets talk about our health insurence plan, yes we choose to keep one but "our" share of cost is over $400. per month for the family plan. It is not free.

    22. Matt says:

      As is the problem with all government changes is that they are universal in nature. Is there unbelievable misuse of tax payer money absolutely. I would argue however that very little of that is in employee salaries. It is no secret what any government employee makes and they are providing a specific service or expertise.

      I make the same working for the VA as I would in the private sector in my current job. This freeze is on cost of living, meaning, when you consider inflation, I will be making less in two years than I do now. Ouch. I

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