Eye Opener: Federal Hiring, Salary, Benefits News
Happy Tuesday! It's a big busy week for The Eye, because his wedding to Almost Mrs. Eye is this Saturday!
Until then however, at least some of The Eye's focus is on Washington, where Congress and President Obama get back to work. As a busy week begins, here are some news and notes on federal hiring, salary and benefits:
"If projections bear out that the federal government will hire up to 120,000 people for jobs in the region over the next few years, the Washington area economy could be on its way to a rebound faster than most of the nation," reports The Post's V. Dion Haynes.
The Washington region is expected to experience a net loss of 21,000 jobs by the end of the year, according to experts. But the region is expected to see net gains in jobs: 23,900 in 2010; 34,900 in 2011; 42,000 in 2012; 47,600 in 2013; and 53,300 in 2014 -- thanks mostly to federal hiring and the peripheral economic benefits.
Check out The Post's fantastic What Washingtonians Make, which ran Monday. The list includes salary information for several federal employees and top government officials:
House Sergeant-at-Arms Wilson Livingood earns $166,774.98, while President Obama's personal secretary, Katie Johnson rakes in $75,000. Paul Rhymer, a taxidermist and model-maker at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History makes $75,000 while Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor now makes $208,100 and former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales banks $100,000 as a visiting professor at Texas Tech University. Hillary Rodham Clinton swapped a Senate salary of $174,000 for $191,300 as secretary of state.
Two other noteworthy earners: A tuba player with the National Symphony Orchestra earns $125,000 a year (!) and The Eye's boss Donald Graham earns $811,960.
Leaders of the federal employee unions plan to "aggressively pursue a broad set of legislative priorities when Congress returns on Tuesday," reports Alyssa Rosenberg of Government Executive. "They also said their members are looking for clarity about what kind of reforms to the pay and personnel systems the Obama administration might pursue."
"One of the first issues on the horizon is the fate of the Defense Department's National Security Personnel System. A panel appointed by the administration to examine the alternative pay system recommended in late August that NSPS be substantially reformed. But the House and Senate versions of the 2010 Defense authorization bill contain slightly different provisions that would repeal NSPS within a year unless the Defense secretary makes a case to retain the program."
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• Cabinet and Staff News: Virtually every Cabinet secretary goes back to school on Tuesday to watch President Obama's speech to students. As Van Jones quits, Other Obama czars on the conservative hit list and more questions about the White House vetting process. Obama picks Ron Bloom to serve as senior adviser (or czar?) for manufacturing. Federal judge rules former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses.
• National Mall Gets New Leader to Guide Face-Lift: It's only been a week since John Piltzecker became superintendent of America's "front yard," but the 25-year park ranger and administrator understands the public outrage over the mall's current condition.
• Administration Seeks to Keep Terror Watch-List Data Secret: Intelligence officials want legislation that would exempt "terrorist identity information" from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Such information is widely shared with law enforcement agencies and intelligence "fusion centers," which combine state and federal counterterrorism resources.
• Schools Aided by Stimulus Money Still Facing Cuts: How much the federal money has succeeded in stabilizing schools depends on the state. In those where budget deficits have been manageable, stimulus money largely replaced plunging taxpayer revenues for schools.
• Paid to Do Nothing: The U.S. Postal Service, struggling with a massive deficit caused by plummeting mail volume, spends more than a million dollars each week to pay thousands of employees to sit in empty rooms and do nothing.
• DOJ to Judge: Dump Birthers' Suit: Federal attorneys argued that the suit is inherently flawed because such disputes can't be resolved in court and because the dozens of plaintiffs can't show they are directly injured by Obama's presence in office.
• Behind FHA Strains, a Push to Lift Housing: The agency insures loans secured with down payments as low as 3.5 percent. But values in many markets in which it has been increasing its activity have fallen far more than that in the past year. The result: A growing number of homeowners with FHA-backed loans owe more than their homes are worth and are more likely to default.
• New Concerns Over Dietary Supplements: Some military health experts say there is evidence that even the legal over-the-counter forms of such supplements can cause heart palpitations, loss of consciousness and death among troops, particularly those in desert climates like Iraq and Afghanistan.
• Volunteers Find Muck and Meaning in Service: Why AmeriCorps has experienced a big increase in volunteers despite criticism.
• U.S. Forced to Pay Recyclers To Take Old Merchant Ships: In the recent past, the Maritime Administration, which is responsible for disposing of aging merchant-class ships in the government inventory, often got one or more bids from U.S. salvage recyclers interested in buying such ships. But these days, the government usually ends up paying to unload the vessels.
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