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Peter Orszag defends federal salaries

By Ed O'Keefe

The Obama administration's top bean counter defended federal salaries Tuesday, saying comparisons between private and public sector paychecks are "misleading."

Obama Orszag
President Obama and OMB Director Peter Orszag photographed in February. (Bloomberg)

"The federal workforce is more highly educated than the private workforce," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag told the Government Executive Leadership Briefing. "Roughly a third of the private workforce has a college degree, for example, [while] well over 50 percent of the federal workforce [does]."

Federal workers also have been on the job longer, and "as people gain more experience, pay tends to increase," Orszag said, according to Government Executive.

Federal workers unions and other outside experts have used similar lines of defense to push back against a recent USA Today analysis that showed federal workers earning higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations. The analysis led Republican lawmakers to request information on feds earning more than $100,000 per year.

Orszag also told the breakfast that the Obama administration considered freezing federal worker salaries in the 2011 federal budget, but ultimately nixed the idea. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) pushed the idea of a federal pay freeze during his successful campaign, arguing the move would help address the deficit.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 10, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

Seniority is the big thing. The average will drop a fair bit as the system cycles out the current top-end folks.

Posted by: EricS2 | March 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

we have two federal employees living in the neighborhood, each with government issued cars that never go anywhere. Why? because they rarely go into the office. They have also bragged that they moved agencies within the federal government and now they can double up on pensions and how they can do their $100,000 plus jobs blindfolded.

Time to start cleaning up these entitled (non)workers.

Posted by: wesatch | March 10, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

from what i hear, the federal goverment is only hiring blacks as a thank you for electing obama...
in other words, whites need not apply...
these are the people that will approve or disapprove your healthcare...
how about that change...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 10, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I have been a federal government employee for 37 years. For years now, the federal government has been trying to catch up to the private sector salaries. In part, the locality pay stepped in. Then they tried NSPS to help employees gain raises without having to wait the regulated years for the next step increase. I don't understand how all of the sudden we are making more than the private sector. Where I work at least 70 percent of the employees have a masters or Ph.D. in sciences & technologies. I thing we can pay them for what they are worth. Commenting on wesatch, your neighbors are probably working as telecommuters. Yes, that is allowed in the federal government.

Posted by: karenkealey | March 10, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Do you have facts to back up your statement that only blacks are being hired by the Feds? Let's use some logic here. Blacks make up 12% of the population (small pool of candidates to begin with for an entity as vast and far reaching as the Fed Gov't), Director states that 50% of the workers have college degrees, therefore, college degree would give you better standing over non degreed applicants (shrinks pool of black candidates considerably). So, please give facts, if they're available.

Posted by: Sanglant25 | March 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I thank Peter Orszag for taking up for us. Also, why should we suffer because Obama decided to give away a trillion dollars of our tax money to banks and other commercial businesses?

Posted by: karenkealey | March 10, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

They can defend it tiil the cows come in, that still do'snt make it right! This is why we need to fire every stinking one of them! This is also why each state should manage it's own money, when you just give it all to just one state it only invites nothing but corruption galore !

Posted by: JWTX | March 10, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

First of all, ignore the stupid, racist comments.

I have a collegs degree, a J.D. and a masters degree. I make easily less then half what I would make in the private sector as a lawyer. And all the really high paid SES employees in the Fed Govt are so grossly underpaid that it is laugable. Think about it folks, we have people that are directors of administration for Agencies with 100,000 and more employees making $170,000 per year. You put that same job in corporate america with the responsibilites they have and they are making seven figures.

I know federal employee bashing is a favorite past time in a recession, but if you are so envious, then join us. And remember, we pay taxes too so cut the crap that your taxes pay my salary. Mine do the same thing!

Posted by: happydad3 | March 10, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

America is dumb as they come ! I mean our Government knows how many Americans are not working. The stupity is incredulous, Americans don't work they don't pay taxes. How could they not think that this would have a profound effect on our economy?

Posted by: JWTX | March 10, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

50% of Federal Workers have college degrees. Has he dealt with Federal workers-talking with them, listening to them speak with the general public. For the most part,I believe that a lot of people are overpaid,including Federal workers. Most Federal workers are very nice, polite, articulate individuals, however, when you deal with the ones who are very, very rude, unhelpful,unable to speak-are they in the 50% who don't have college degrees? I don't have a college degree and I am neither rude or un-helpful and I come to work everyday as I am paid to do. I am responsible and I work with three others-we are a team with 2 members and a supervisor who don't want to be here. Two of them have college degrees. Degrees don't make employees "worth" outrageously high salaries, performance & work ethics do. Mr. Orszag, your statement was an insult to those of us who worked to pay for degrees for our children and/or spouses.

Posted by: capritch | March 10, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The major disconnect with these government salaries is their contributions. Most of us know of government programs that simply fail to accomplish what they set out to do - from the Department of Energy (set up in 1977 to end our dependence on foreign oil) to the DoD programs that spend billions on programs that are just shut down upon delivery.

Talented people who get results are worth every penny. Generally, these individuals are not in government, and if they are, cannot affect change because of the nature of beaurocracy.

Add the inflated salaries to inflated benefits (who gets pensions anymore? Nobody but the government), extra government-only holidays, and almost lifelong promise of a job (ever heard of someone being fired for cause?) and you have the seeds of citizen discontent.

Posted by: mattR5 | March 10, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

If the federal government pays so well, how come it can't get or keep any IT people with knowledge of IT?

Posted by: bigbrother1 | March 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't really trust the numbers in the USA Today article. The figure they have listed for my job in the private sector is the starting salary I was offered fresh out of grad school at a big consulting firm 7 years ago. So, I find it hard to believe that's the average private sector salary now. There must be many things the study doesn't control for.

Posted by: ideallydc | March 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The first group of people who need to have their salaries frozen, no REDUCED, are the bloody useless members of Congress, especially those who served too long.
I have known several fed employees who earn their keep. Of course, there are always bad apples.

Posted by: uthaithani | March 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

If federal employees are doing well in their job, why should they not get rewarded? Don't we want smart competent people do work for the government?

Posted by: ideallydc | March 10, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

My, my, my . . . isn't it interesting how people prove that they are closet socialist when they feel someone else is making one dime more than they are!

Stalin is probably spinning in his grave.

If you don't like our system, and our federal government, then leave this great country of ours! May I suggest moving to, Bosnia, Russia, Somalia, Haiti, or Chile. Perhaps you would enjoy those governments better.

Posted by: TheChampishere | March 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I share the general distrust of USA Today as a reliable source of information. Assuming that the information is correct, there is an erroneous premise here: there is nothing wrong with federal salaries being higher that those of the private work force. It is the contrary scenario that should animate public concern.

Posted by: pohare1 | March 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Think about it folks, we have people that are directors of administration for Agencies with 100,000 and more employees making $170,000 per year. You put that same job in corporate america with the responsibilites they have and they are making seven figures."

those jobs don't exist in the private sector because there's no demand for those services at the cost the fed govt is willing to go into ever-increasing debt to pay. the private sector is collapsing, deflation is not far off.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 10, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

The effectiveness of many federal programs suggests to some degree that college degrees are no assurance of successful employees, e.g., the ability to get the intended result. People don't get fired for horrendous mistakes in the government. The benefits are out of sight. The security is incredible. We get the kind of government that we deserve. Just look at Congress.

Posted by: axolotl | March 10, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Federal employment has always been a tool of government to advance working conditions in the U.S. This is why the private sector has denigrated government employment. The effectiveness of government programs is usually tied to Congressional funding, not lack of diligence on the part of employees. In the private sector wage differences between the CEO and her employees has expanded tremendously in the past two decades. Bush tax cuts for the rich and the flight of American business overseas has contributed to this inequity. Now Congress wants to cut entitlements to balance the budget, ignoring the wealthy and putting the budget burden on the middle class.

Posted by: millerdh50 | March 10, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

lawyers who note they would make more in private practice are welcome to pack up and try it.
go from a 40-45 work week to 60-70, with a partnership hinging on rain-making. ramp those hours up - way up - when a case is pending and a brief is due.
the short hours, early retirement with COLAed pension and A++ benefits for worker and spouse make a mockery of the underpaid claim. the salary is excellent for the work produced, and the early (lucrative) exit is a seven-figure perk that must be factored in.

Posted by: FloridaChick | March 10, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

we have two federal employees living in the neighborhood, each with government issued cars that never go anywhere. Why? because they rarely go into the office. They have also bragged that they moved agencies within the federal government and now they can double up on pensions and how they can do their $100,000 plus jobs blindfolded.

Time to start cleaning up these entitled (non)workers.
*****************************************
Time for you to know what you're talking about before shooting off your mouth. You can double-dip by putting in time in both the uniformed military and the Civil Service. You cannot do it by moving from one civilian job or agency to another.

I find that the biggest critics of Government employees know the least about them and how the entire civilian personnel system operates.

Posted by: st50taw | March 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

MillionEA7, perhaps you could do a bit of research. FedEx and UPS are examples of companies who do a job, express delivery, because they believe they could do it better than the USPS. The Postmaster General is appointed by the President and makes a federal salary which is likely a fraction of the salary of Fred Smith at FedEX. Forbes had Mr. Smith making 8 million dollars a year in 2006. The postmaster got 800,000 or, roughly, 10% of that of one of his direct competitors.

Posted by: Noodles3 | March 10, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I love how folks knock federal employees.

I worked private sector much of my career and have worked gov't for the past 5-6 years. I have never worked as hard in my life as I have in government. The private sector thinks there is more efficiency and thus greater return. That's hogwash. that's an excuse to dismiss so many folks pulling at the profit in the private secotr. Conversely, the scope and vastness of government is incredible. What i thought was a big project in private sector is dwarfed by billion dollar programs in government. So the accountability and scale of the work needs to be looked at too. In private i was dealing with $200-500K in fees for $2-10 million projects. in the government i am dealing with $700 million to $2 billion programs. that requires a lot more people.

And yes, everyone in my office minus the admin person has a college degree. Actually, minus 1 or 2 of the older folks, everyone else has a masters degree. Degrees aside the 1 or 2 that don't have masters could literally write the book on how to run this place too.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 10, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

lawyers who note they would make more in private practice are welcome to pack up and try it.
go from a 40-45 work week to 60-70, with a partnership hinging on rain-making. ramp those hours up - way up - when a case is pending and a brief is due.
the short hours, early retirement with COLAed pension and A++ benefits for worker and spouse make a mockery of the underpaid claim. the salary is excellent for the work produced, and the early (lucrative) exit is a seven-figure perk that must be factored in.

***************************************

Blah, blah, blah! If you dont like the job, mow lawns or flip burgers, ut don't complain. That decision was YOUR choice.

Funny thing though, most lawyers I know and went to law school with are just making ends meet. TOO MUCH SUPPLY AND NOT ENOUGH DEMAND AT THE PRICE MOST LAWYERS CHARGE. Many state bar associations are beginning to teach its citizens how to represent themselves in court for "minor" legal issues such as wills, name changes, family law & uncontested divorce. When I worked in private firms in the past, clients were getting ripped off.

The private sector is collapsing while the federal government thrives . . . DUE TO THE NEED FOR A STRONG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and too much supply for the demand in the private sector. Our business sector is "correcting" itself.

All you states rights and 10th Amendment nuts, be careful what you ask for.

Posted by: TheChampishere | March 10, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I've worked in the public and private sectors. There is ZERO difference in the work ethic between employees in both arenas. You have your go-getters in each and you have your slackers in each. You have your hands-on bosses in each, you have your bosses who just collect paychecks in each. When the going gets rough, government workers are the least likely to lose their jobs, so employees in the private sector (often on the chopping block--if they haven't already been laid-off/fired) start calling for blood.

Meanwhile guess who wants to keep their extended unemployment benefits and Cobras...courtesy of those who have jobs and pay taxes?

PS - I was a contractor but now I'm a civil service employee. I make the exact amount! With less leave, similar benefits, and similarly qualified personnel (EVERYONE I used to work with as a contractor had a college degree, everyone I work with as a government employee has a college degree--most have their graduate degrees).

I'm not sure why government employees are being attacked.

Posted by: alc0f7 | March 10, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

First, all things being equal, if you love what you do and what you do is also your hobby (i.e. you work 60-80 hours a week and like doing it) you are not a Federal worker, and, based on how they bill out to gov't, those kinds of driven folks make 150-300% more than Federal workers who are technically-inclined, but pretty much reduced to project managers and policy-makers in the government. I could go on and on, and I wouldn't be opposed to a temp salary freeze, but Fed salaries are small potatoes. What do Congressman make? How many days a year do they work? Are they even qualified? Is it even the best paradigm? Leadership training tells you that the worst and last resort to decision-making is "vote." And nothing changes, but they certainly do make their $ in entertainment value and don't have the ethics restrictions -read "financial investment restrictions"- rank and file Feds have.

The reality is that Fed salaries would be an issue AFTER the war $ is reigned in, and after entitlements are no longer ponzi-like schemes instead of some-kind of subsidized savings/insurance schemes. You could have congress optimize the laws and the processes, and you'd get tremendous savings through removal of red tape while making regulations more clear, but wow, what congressman isn't worried more about winning a popularity congress rather than doing work that actually CLEARLY helps Americans in the long run? You want to get rid or retirement for Feds? Sure, if you triple the amount the Fed pays into the TSP, I'd go for it. But nobody says anything about that. Companies and other sector industries have done-away with pensions, but I've also noticed they've tripled or MORE their match --think, I put 3% in, they put 9% in, etc) to retirement funds like 401k so when the employee leaves, they have a retirement contribution, but the employer has cut ties.

So, focus on the real cost cutting issues and quit your jealous complaining, think straight, and we can make this better for everyone. It won't be long and the Feds will be underpaid and still over and mis qualified.

Posted by: NovaMike | March 10, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

In response to Wesatch, the problem is not the federal government as a whole, it is individual agencies.

My agency is draconian with respect to GOV usage. Cars are parked at work, and god help you if you're caught anywhere but your official destination, or somewhere in between. On the other hand, there was a NASA employee working in my building. I couldn't help but notice the child seat strapped in the back. Military recruiters are another source of abuse. I see them all over town, at the grocery store, carting the kids around, etc.

In concluding, I have a general comment. It wasn't that long ago that I was reading how underpaid federal employees were compared to private industry. Specifically, in the 1980's and 1990's, the Defense Industry was the place to be. I guess I fell asleep and missed the point in time when I zoomed ahead of private industry.

Posted by: john0132 | March 10, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"The Postmaster General is appointed by the President and makes a federal salary which is likely a fraction of the salary of Fred Smith at FedEX. Forbes had Mr. Smith making 8 million dollars a year in 2006. The postmaster got 800,000 or, roughly, 10% of that of one of his direct competitors."

that's a hilarious example you provide. maybe you haven't been keeping up with current events, but the USPS is projecting a $238 BILLION budget deficit by 2020, while FedEx and UPS are both profitable.

privatize the USPS and see how much the Postmaster gets paid to run his company into the ground and lose all its business. i'm sure all the struggling smaller carriers across the country would welcome the added business that's currently being stolen from them by a bankrupt taxpayer-subsidized dinosaur like USPS.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Why complain now!?!?

During the Bush years, federal salaries increased 3-4% every single year! Now under Obama, the increase was only 2%, the lowest in decades!

Why does everything with the right wingers have to be political and based on partisanship?

Posted by: TheChampishere | March 10, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I was a federal employee for 31+years. As far as I know, no matter how many times you change agencies within the government, you only receive one pension - records are transferred as you change. The only exception might be a retired military person receiving a pension. I think someone is pulling someone's chain!

Posted by: PeggyGillich | March 10, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Orszag should be spending more time with his love child.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Um, message to Peter: experience on a federal job doesn't translate into greater productivity. I watch this everyday on CSpan. It's truly shocking how bad these federal employees are. If I had to listen to people like that everyday I'd figure out a way to telecommute too.

Posted by: Tess6 | March 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

We shouldn't be complaining about Federal workers making a decent salary with good health and retirement benefits, we should be asking why private industry, whose managers are making millions of dollars are not treating their workers the same.

And as far as FedEx vs USPS, the USPS charges 44 cents to deliver the same letter FedEx charges $15.00 for, which may account for the difference in profits.

Posted by: cassin1 | March 10, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The problem with federal employees (especially in the past several years) is that the pay is going up higher but the quality of what those employees do is very poor. We only have to look around at the "results" of federal employees and their handlers. Food the supply was poisoned, drugs on the market are killing people, problems with runaway Toyotas creating a safety hazard, bridges collapsing, the Katrina disaster, inability to obtain loan modifications for eligible borrowers under a federal program...I could go on and on about the incompetence of federal employees. The issue is this...what value do federal employees bring to others if they cannot lower their costs or find ways to be self-sufficient. They obtain a salary off the backs of hard working private sector folks that are trying to prove their value everyday. It doesn't matter if someone has a college degree or not. The issue is prove "value". If we are all upset over executive pay in the private sector (CEO's obtaining obscene amounts of money for poor performance), then we should be equally angry at federal employees coasting to retirement for doing nothing more than showing up. BTW, for the person that said blacks are the ones getting hired in government (not the case)...it is now WHITE WOMEN who are the affirmative action hires. Check it out for yourselves.

Posted by: kitten2 | March 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Government people get much more if you figure in the pension obligations. On the whole though, paying for years of experience vs. how well someone can do the job is not a good idea. In addition, when you are creating or designing a product, you have the ability to sell your labor multiple times. This is why government has fewer qualified technical people than they could.

What has happened to private sector jobs is international competition. If you can hire a factory worker, help desk worker, software developer, accountant, claims processor overseas to do something, the salary for that position in the US is not going to go up, and may go down, until the rest of the world rises to meet us.

Federal employment is not as subject to these competitive pressures, so it is getting out of line with the market, much as the UAW caused auto workers salaries, benefits, and pensions to get out of line with the market.

Posted by: staticvars | March 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The racial comment was ridiculous! What is really funny is the "mainstream" america can make millions of dollars, i.e. the executives of wall street, banks, large corporations, and it is OK because they are "mainstream" and they are entitled but federal employees are categorized as non productive! White America is unbelievable!

Posted by: pythomas48 | March 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Is this jealousy and resentment towards Federal employees?

As a federal employee, here's the scenario we all fear. The seeds for a major RIF are being set now for when the next Republican President is elected. They will sacrifice a few offices and cut their people cold turkey, but in truth the only thing that will happen is more federal jobs will be contracted out to the private sector. It will cost the federal goverment $75 an hour for a secretary that is paid $20.

The beauty of the republican plan is on paper they would have reduced the federal workforce and some connected person will be getting the $55 difference and profiting. I know of offices that have had the same scientist as contractors since Reagan. the contractor changes but the employees running this group don't. the contractor does not even think of changing the staff, and the government office essentially demands they keep the same people to assure continuity. So why aren't they brought in as Fed employees? The stupidity of federal law requiring some services should be contracted out. so the fed pays, $100-200 an hour for people that make about $50-65 and hour. Even the total cost of their labor is cheaper thanthe contractor costs. So don't fall for the bull. Look at how government contracting grew during the Bush years.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 10, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

what the recent comparisons fail to include is the value of benefits that federal employees enjoy, from health care, disability, and pensions, that are unrivaled in 99% of the private sector. sure, a number of the fed employees are highly qualified but their work product is highly overvalued. try to find a program or budget analyst job in the private sector for over $100k, it doesn't exist. the problem is that federal employees receive increases every year, no matter, what while the rest of us have been moving backwards or running in place in the private sector, losing salaries, benefits, and retirement.
I've got one way to settle the argument, let's see how many gs14-15's or ses' employees have jumped to the private sector in the last 10 years to get all those higher salaries, and I can take off my socks and shoes to count all of them. Gimme a break! As a former federal employee now in the private sector, I'll gladly trade places. Any takers?

Posted by: dandaman606 | March 10, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I have worked for the Fed govt, state govt, business and contractors and I witnessed many fine, hard-working dedicated govt workers alongside many do-nothings coasting until they die or retire. NOTHING will change until the govt is able to weed out the week and reward the valued employees. No business could survive by dragging along so much deadwood. It hurts the great workers while rewarding the losers to keep them around.

The pay is not as great as some think given the education and experience levels - the benefits and near-impossibility of getting fired is what keeps many in govt service.

Posted by: branwyn | March 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I see lots of comments here that mention government issued cars. How many cars does the Federal gov't give to its employees? I suspect that we have an opportunity here to reign in "waste fraud and abuse".

Posted by: hardgj | March 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, what happened to the idea of merit pay raises? Federal workers should have to be able to state what they are doing better or more of this year than last to be considered for a pay raise. The way the system is, if they were lazy clowns last year and even lazier this year they get the same pay raise as the productive worker! Why reward useless workers? Want to throw a scare in the Federal employee ranks? Propose this and watch them cry for their union rep's!

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | March 10, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

staticvars - pension benefits? A 5% match!

I think you global economy and competition argument is bogus. That's why America is in the predicament it is now. yeah, ship the job across the sea. pay them $2 a day and ship the product to the US and save $0.50 per unit. It's cheaper than paying blonde hair and blue eyed Jim or Mary in Ohio $10 an hour for the same product, which also happens to sustain the economy of their community and country.

The problem with your logic is the failed realization that Americans need a standard to survive. Americans can never compete with workers that live in shanties and could survive off $2 a day. You see it in Asian countries that were undeveloped just 20 years ago. they are losing jobs and contracts to even cheaper asian nations. And just as the living conditions and standards in those countries change, their expense will increase and the companies will find yet cheapers labor.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 10, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The government is simply too big and expensive. It galls me that President Obama and others are pushing the idea that student loan debt should be forgiven for those students who get public sector jobs. The federal govt. is the only outfit that's hiring people. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill even more for these workers.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | March 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

We need a product that is 'profitable'! The argument that Federal employees pay tax also is a bit bogus. It amounts to dollars that were taken from productive folks tax dollars going back into the same pot. In most cases Federal employees produce very little product that is profitable. We need less loss leaders!

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | March 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Orszag is alying sack of you know what, just like his boss Odumbo.

Can one of these slugs ever tell the truth?

I seriusly doubt it.

Posted by: LarryG62 | March 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

There are many Federal employees that earn their keep. For years the Govt has been trying to get salaries competitive with the private sector to attract qualified & experienced personnel. Thus, I find it hard to believe that Govt salaries have outpaced private sector salaries for comparable jobs. Also, if Govt salaries and benefits were so great, why has there been SES/GS 15's/14's who's walked away for private sector jobs?

Posted by: bgal | March 10, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

People should inform themselves before they comment. Federal employees do have a MERIT pay system. They also have a comparability system based on camparison studies with the private sector employees rather than cost-of-living. If you don't meet performance standards at an above average level - tough. And when private sector wages don't rise based on localitiy - tough again. And a couple of blowhards in the neighborhood don't tell you anything. Some Federal employees do work at home but the Federal sector lags the private sector on this. I am so tried of right-wing criticism by people who cannot read or choose not to.

Posted by: withersb | March 10, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I am an Air Force veteran who decided to come into the federal government after my Cold War job was pretty much over (ICBM launch officer). I came in almost 20 years ago at 16K per year, with an MBA. I choose that salary over a more lucrative job in the private sector because I had a newborn and wanted some stability and benefits. I am now one of those feds who make over 100K, but I worked my way up into it, and the way I look at it I am finally making what I am worth as an IT security specialist. Try and find someone in the private sector with my experience and skillset and you would probably have to pay a wee bit more. I have always been a bargain, so instead of you fed-haters griping how much I make now how about thanking me for working so cheap for all those years.

Posted by: cpusss | March 10, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

What percent of Federal Employees raises are based on this "MERIT pay system"? Smoke and mirrors! As for the " SES/GS 15's/14's who's walked away for private sector jobs", how many were there and did they go to companies that were directly effected by the Federal offices they previously worked at?

I have not said ALL Federal workers are 'bad'. I have tried to state that there needs to be a better program for the work produced and pay given for TAX dollars spent. Like I said, suggest raises (and even job security) based on output and watch them run to their union rep's.

Posted by: gunnysgt77 | March 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

A federal pay freeze for next year is probably a good idea since nobody else is getting raises. However, when the recovery is under way and wages start to grow, increasing federal pay by the same measure would be appropriate.

Posted by: bill3 | March 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I am a scientist and I work for the Federal government. I have passed up private sector work that paid 25% more to be here. Many of us routinely put in 60 to 80 hours in ONE WEEK and we do not ask for a single red cent in overtime pay. We do this not only because we are professionals, but also because we are proud to be civil servants. We serve you, the American public, often beyond our call of duty. The least you can give us is some baseline respect.

Posted by: geekchick314 | March 10, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Everybody wants a Federal job. The workload is much lighter than in the private sector, the pay is better, there are still incredible 20th century benefits, and job security-wise, it's bullet-proof.

But good luck if you can't relocate to the DC area. Here in New York, for every federal job that opens up in my field, there are hundreds of applicants.

Posted by: Itzajob | March 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is our agency was lucky enough to hire a guy from the private sector with 20 years experience. He took a $25,000 per year pay cut. He's a hard worker - putting in regular 12 hour days, so he didn't do it for the reduced work. We were able to convince him to come to the federal side because his previous employer kept making him move every 3 years. And no, the benefits we give him as a federal worker are not better than what he was getting in his previous job.

Posted by: will4567 | March 10, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse


Federal workers UNIONS.........does that make me sick????

If Obama really wanted to spread the wealth....that is where the ground needs to be leveled.

***

Posted by: paulann1 | March 10, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for allowing me to exress my opinion on this thread. I am a federal employee, and I submit that I am working with some of the most dedicated, conscientious individuals in the workforce today, who have chosen to work for the public sector because of their deep and abiding belief in and love for their country.

Posted by: aa00 | March 10, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I work for the Federal Gov't have a BS MS and MBA. Could someone point me to the "inflated salary" pool? Please? I do make less here than in the "real world". But (hopefully) traded the income for a modicum of job security. And, yes, my compatriots where I work all are BS, MS and many PhDs. And these folks should be making $100k. The 80/20 rule applies here like anywhere ... about 20% of the workers are "deadwood" but the rest really do carry a huge load. Where in the private sector could you find a highly educated manager controling 1,500 employees and $23Bn and only getting $172K? Oh and they usually are working 10-14 hours a day. I know you all say "Oh I'd do that" but most of you have yet to invest any of your time or personal fortune into your education so you can get a "high paying job". Many of you really need to learn more before you attempt to speak on a subject you know so little about. And REALLY don't believe everything you read in the newspaper - they have to sell copy and ya'll "God bless you" suck it up like a sponge without question.

Posted by: bluenote38 | March 10, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I am one of those federal employees who makes slightly over 100K per year. I am an IT professional with a college degree. I am dating someone who works for a drug company in the private sector who does exactly the same job that I do and has the same college degree. Yet he makes double the salary that I do. So tell me again how I am overpaid? As far as only blacks being hired by the federal government... that is SOOOO not true. We just hired three new employees and they are all white.

Posted by: Lewis52 | March 10, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

'I am a scientist and I work for the Federal government. I have passed up private sector work that paid 25% more to be here. Many of us routinely put in 60 to 80 hours in ONE WEEK and we do not ask for a single red cent in overtime pay. We do this not only because we are professionals, but also because we are proud to be civil servants. We serve you, the American public, often beyond our call of duty. The least you can give us is some baseline respect.'
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I don't know what you are smoking, but let me address all of your points. I am a federal employee, and I've been here for three years, after 25 years in the private sector (IBM, Chase; so I know both worlds intimately. First, you may be a scientist with a distinguished academic background, but the majority of federal workers got their college degrees from God Know's Where University. And those with Masters have them from even MORE obscure institutions of higher education. My opinion is that federal employees are severely under-educated. They learn their skills primarily on the job, and these skills are 90% administrative and repetitive, with very little in-depth analysis or creative thinking required. Ask how many can do a real financial business case to justify their project(s, or even WRITE an analytical paper with a coherent beginning, middle and end. Second, private sector pay is typically 25% higher, but the RISK of getting laid off is infinitely higher. When adjusted for this risk, federal salaries are MUCH HIGHER than in the private sector. Also private sector employers make you travel constantly to where the work is located (in the IT sector at least), so you are never home. Once you pass the one year mark in the federal gov't, you're in for life baby, and don't tell me otherwise. Also, in the federal gov't you can either work at the office, or at home!!! What a luxury. You can work your 8 hours a day and sleep the undisturbed sleep of the innocent. The folks working over 40 hours are in a TINY minority. I salute you for your efforts. As for having a commitment to the public trust, who are you kidding? Self-interest is human nature everywhere, both in the private sector and in the gov't. I'd say 90% of gov't employees want just what private sector people want: promotions, more pay, more time off, recognition, etc....a thank you from the public comes way down on the list. You may disagree, but I submit you only know the gov't from the rarefied confines of your scientific ivory tower.

Posted by: lafayette89 | March 10, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

what the recent comparisons fail to include is the value of benefits that federal employees enjoy, from health care, disability, and pensions, that are unrivaled in 99% of the private sector. sure, a number of the fed employees are highly qualified but their work product is highly overvalued. try to find a program or budget analyst job in the private sector for over $100k, it doesn't exist. the problem is that federal employees receive increases every year, no matter, what while the rest of us have been moving backwards or running in place in the private sector, losing salaries, benefits, and retirement.
I've got one way to settle the argument, let's see how many gs14-15's or ses' employees have jumped to the private sector in the last 10 years to get all those higher salaries, and I can take off my socks and shoes to count all of them. Gimme a break! As a former federal employee now in the private sector, I'll gladly trade places. Any takers?

---------------------------------------
Most Federal workers DO NOT have skills that are marketable in the private sector, and they know it. The game is to bounce around from agency to agency, trying to up your GS level and salary with each jump. Also, the pressure in the private sector to meet deadlines, or get fired, is absolutely UNKNOWN in the Federal government. Ask why the implementation of HSPD-12, the new 'terror proof' ID badges is so overdue and overbudget. Go ahead, ask!!!!

Posted by: lafayette89 | March 10, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

In response to wesatch, I am a govie of 20 years and have come in contact with hundreds of other govies over the years and have yet to hear of one of them that has or had a government car. Most private sector people I know have better perks that most govies I know. As for non-workers, you have no idea how hard many govies work, so climb off the band wagon and worry about your self!

Posted by: amckenz | March 10, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

If the federal government is sooo far behind the private sector in wages and benefits then how have they been able to attract and retain so many people?

Posted by: confused1 | March 10, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course the comparisons are misleading. It's possible to fire private citizens. If the private sector looked anything like the government, we'd have the GDP of Burma.

Posted by: member5 | March 10, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Hello-- Earth to Federal Workers:

You do NOT deserve higher pay just because you have a degree or degrees.

Posted by: confused1 | March 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"And as far as FedEx vs USPS, the USPS charges 44 cents to deliver the same letter FedEx charges $15.00 for, which may account for the difference in profits."

the difference being the person mailing the letter pays that $15 instead of the whole country subsidizing the cost. is the USPS a self-evident right now too?

Posted by: millionea7 | March 10, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"And as far as FedEx vs USPS, the USPS charges 44 cents to deliver the same letter FedEx charges $15.00 for, which may account for the difference in profits."
----------------------------------------
the difference being the person mailing the letter pays that $15 instead of the whole country subsidizing the cost. is the USPS a self-evident right now too?
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FYI - the USPS is an independent agency of the US Government, receiving no tax payer funding since the early 1980s

Posted by: dcSludge | March 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

lafayette89 - I came to government from private sector (engineering,planning, consulting). I held your view before I came. i remember being pressed for a deadline calling our Fed (DOT) contact and the guy was out for his AWS day. we finally got his supervisor and his supervisor was like wait for him to answer that question, he'll be back tomorrow. In our eyes $$$ millions in construction was up in the air. Our principle was an impatient jack--- anyway. Truth is we waited a day, talked to the guy and things went on for like another week or more before any headway was really made.

That incident kind of framed my view of the Fed approach. Then I got a job with the Fed. (tired of avoiding layoffs and jumping firms to get decent raises) Some of those processors, stamp and review, admin like jobs may have it easy, but some aspects of policy, finance, budget jump. Add to that you are talking large amounts of dollars going to the far reaches of the world, the politicall volatility of almost every Agency and it's a hell of a load.

So i would suggest you look at another job area. I know about HSPD-12 and I have long thought IT was a fraud in general going back to Y2K.We're in the process of implementing it at my agency. i do not undersand the costs and timeframe, but it's being done.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 10, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

No government employee should make more than an equivalent salary paid to a civilian professional. Candidates given the choice should get a higher salary in private sector jobs than in government jobs. Civilians should always make more income than any any any government employee ! Government should be the employer of LAST RESORT, not FIRST RESORT !

Posted by: raymeo | March 10, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that now that the workday is over all of the posts have stopped. Obviously some people out there don't mind goofing off on their employer's time.

Posted by: Axel2 | March 10, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Generally speaking - you get what you pay for. The problem isn't salaries - it's the lack of consequences for poor performers. I see Feds who are excellent workers: bright, hard-working, driven and enjoyable. But their salaries float along with the slack-jaw folks who call meetings but have nothing to contibute. People who don't have any real work assigned to them because we all know they're going to mess it up. But nobody can get rid of them. The one exception is the State Department who can transfer non-performers to some dark corner of the world and make their life hell.

Posted by: mwcob | March 10, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Peter, don't give me the junior economist rationale for salary administration...in fact, compensation PERIOD. I am certain that I know a hell of a lot more about the subject(s) than you. Want to challenge me?
You have OMB, CSA, a whole rat's nest of 3 letter "we know better than you" clowns, and you obviously can't give me a genuine reason for the escalating salaries in the federal government. It is a joke, my friend.

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 10, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

A sea change is coming to our country.

The voters are going to say to the government unions-

"Step into my office!"

"Why" says union leader...

Voters say-

"Because you and everyone else in our bloted federal government is f*cking fired!"

Posted by: knight1977 | March 10, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Fire them all, have them re-interview for their jobs:

So what exactly do you DO around here?

Posted by: fireball72 | March 11, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

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