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Republicans have little love for federal workers

By Ed O'Keefe


Eye Opener

The big takeaways from our new poll on public perceptions of federal workers? A majority of Americans think they're overpaid, more than a third think they're less qualified than private sector workers -- and Republicans especially don't seem to like them.

Just 2 percent of Republicans think federal employees work harder than private sector workers, and almost 6 in 10 think they work less hard. Forty-six percent of Republicans believe federal workers are of a lower quality than the private sector workforce. Democrats are much more sympathetic, with 11 percent believing they work harder than the private sector and almost 1 in 5 believing they're of a higher quality.

Republicans are even more critical of federal compensation: 83 percent believe feds get better pay and benefits than other workers, and almost two-thirds believe they're overpaid. But 80 percent of the GOP believes federal pay and benefits should be on par with compensation at comparable private-sector jobs.

Just 47 percent of Republicans would recommend pursuing a government career to relatives or friends just getting out of school. (Only 46 percent of self-identified conservatives would recommend federal work.)

Perhaps most troubling for feds: Just 26 percent of Republicans who had contact with a federal worker in the last year thought they did very well at their job and 23 percent said they didn't do well at all. People of all other political persuasions -- Democrats, independents, conservative, liberals, moderates -- had better perceptions of the feds they dealt with in the last year.

In an interview Friday, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was unapologetic, saying the poll results mirror what he's heard on the campaign trail.

"There's marked differences when it comes to unemployment and job security in the federal sector than there is in the private," Cantor said. He's proposed a series of government spending cuts, including a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-security federal workers and echoes the sentiments of other GOP candidates who believe the government's been too generous to its workers.

Cantor cited Heritage Foundation statistics that found the government has grown by 12 percent since the recession began and that federal workers earn approximately 30 percent to 40 percent more in total pay and benefits than private sector workers.

But John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees and one of the federal sector's biggest defenders, said blanket comparisons between federal workers and the private sector are unfair.

"How the hell do they know what federal employees are paid?" Gage said of the poll's respondents. Unions and the Obama administration haven't done a good enough job defending the federal workforce, he said.

"But how many things do you want the Obama administration to take on?" Gage said.

"Public public opinion on this shifts so fast. I thought maybe five or 10 years ago we'd really turned a corner on the faceless bureaucrat nonsense and that people were appreciating federal employees and the services they provide."

Apparently not.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama considers leaving federal jobs unfilled and may be on his own if he wants to make big changes. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates doesn't think WikiLeaks did much damage. David Axelrod once again raises the issue of conservative political donations while Robert Gibbs thinks Democrats will come out on top. Justice William Brennan, a liberal lion who wouldn't hire women. Condoleezza Rice focuses on the personal, not political. Top military, civilian officials in Afghanistan stress progress.

DEA:
Scout in Mumbai attacks was DEA informant while in terror camp: David Coleman Headley, the U.S. businessman who confessed to being a terrorist scout in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was working as an agency informant.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Soldier to face court-martial in Afghan deaths: Army Spec. Jeremy Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, is charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the deaths. The charges carry the death penalty.

The front lines of saving lives: The medical crew is here to save lives, but Rule 1 of the Basic Management Plan for Care Under Fire is "Return fire and take cover."

Navy to offer Web-based support to fight substance abuse: The $3.25 million program is intended to keep sailors with addiction problems on the road to recovery and links them to support programs anywhere in the world.

EPA:
EPA's "environmental justice" tour comes to California: It's a movement to focus attention on pollution in low-income communities.

FDA:
FDA admits error in fast approval of knee implant: The agency had allowed the Menaflex Collagen Scaffold to get a fast-track approval, over the objections of FDA scientists who sought more rigorous evaluations.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. casts vote against pot: Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration "strongly opposes" a California ballot measure to legalize marijuana.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 17, 2010; 10:45 PM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

"Cantor cited Heritage Foundation statistics that found the government has grown by 12 percent since the recession began and that federal workers earn approximately 30 percent to 40 percent more in total pay and benefits than private sector workers."

Continue to cut private sector wages and of course government workers will earn more.

Eric Rothschild Cantor should be the last person complaining about government workers, republicans have refused to cut their own pay or give up their lifetime health and pension benefits.

Posted by: knjincvc | October 17, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Eric Cantor and the Heritage Foundation can KMA.

Just what the hell does the Heritage Foundation contribute to society? Talk about parasites...and the people's opinion of Congress is worse than their opinion of Federal employees. Maybe Cantor ought shut up and clean up his own house before he bad-mouths anyone else. What he and the twits at the HF fail to mention is that most of the growth of the Federal workforce is directly or indirectly related to GOP-induced paranoia over terrorism.

Terrorism sucks, but are we going to drive ourselves to the poorhouse to protect that last 0.001% of the population? When you consider probable casualties, the diminishing returns for security dollars just isn't worth it, and it's just what the terrorists want.

Posted by: st50taw | October 18, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

We need to keep reminding Republicans what happened the last time they made government employees a wedge issue.

Does the name Timothy McVeigh ring a bell?

Did Republicans fail to grasp the stark, horrifying message that hate speech has consequences.

In 1995, Federal workers and their children were collateral damage when the hate mongering against Federal workers got out of control. Earlier this year, a cab driver in New York was collateral damage when the hate mongering against Muslims got out of control. I fear for the next victims of this ugly game of Hate Monger Roulette.

Posted by: exco | October 18, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

"How the hell do they know what federal employees are paid?" Gage said of the poll's respondents.


"We try to keep our pay and benefits as secret as possible, there is no way an average American can determine how much most of us our paid, I am pretty sure of that." He said ...

(If they did know the poll results would be much much worse)

Posted by: cautious | October 18, 2010 4:30 AM | Report abuse

There is a tension between the government worker and the citizen seeking services from the government. Government employees see their job as ensuring that everyone is treated the same, as prescribed by numerous regulations detailing every miniscule aspect of service delivery. The "best" of them believe that they are the saviors of the nation and that denial of services is a worthwhile goal.

For the individual seeking anything from them, government employees are a roadblock and a threat rather than a facilitator. Concepts of service delivery are turned upside down when dealing with public, as opposed to private, entities. Its the nature of the beast.

Posted by: magellan1 | October 18, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Cantor continues to mouth off on subjects for which he is unqualified.oh wait he is a congressman from Va.he is unqualified just by being in office. Where did he come from? Thanks Va.voters for another in a long history of unqualified public officials in your sweet history.

Posted by: 1set | October 18, 2010 5:58 AM | Report abuse

Goodness. I've heard this from the GOP for 55 years. It's private sector propaganda at its worst. As a party, the GOP has never been able to reconcile their greed with the notion that for federal workers, service and nation come first. Federal workers are some of the hardest working people I know and the GOP better figure that out if it actually wants to accomplish anything.

Posted by: rallnutt1 | October 18, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

OMG major brands giving out samples on their favorite products check at http://bit.ly/aJWSXv tell others

Posted by: jeremyrenner18 | October 18, 2010 6:17 AM | Report abuse

The public sector is similar to the private sector in that you have employees who are lazy, employees who there to just do a job, and employees who are highly productive. The difference is that in the private sector employees tend to be better compensated. That's right, for most types of jobs within government, similar jobs in the private sector tend to have either higher pay or the potential for it. I do think the difference is that in the private sector, getting rid of employees is easier. In the public sector it is difficult.

With regard to the increase in the hiring of Feds under Obama -- of course there is an increase in hires. The Bush administration enriched the private contracting sector by delegating fundamentally governmental tasks to his fat cat cronies. The current Administration's goal is to replace the need for contractors by hiring Feds to do Fed work. It costs the Federal budget MORE to keep on contractors than to just hire someone to do it. Seems like the Repubs gloss over this.

Really silly that this has become such a prominent issue. I may just go back to the private sector where I can earn so much more. Gee thanks to Congress, instead of being complimented for going into public service (motivated by 9/11), those of us who are passionate and hard working are being criticized publicly. Nice.

Posted by: commentator3 | October 18, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Republican here and fed employee. Like most issues, there's some truth to both sides. Generally, federal employees, in my opinion, are paid a fair wage. Remember, most feds outside of DC are likely GS-13s. Grade inflation is prevalent in DC since the gov is headquartered here. There are too many feds. I believe you could easily get rid of a few hundred thousand. And yes, it's very tough to fire one. We've been trying for 2 years in my office. Bad employees and their lawyers seem to wait out the system and they usually can win this way. Bottom line: pay is fair, we could do away with some feds, and finally, make it easier to get rid of the bad ones.

Posted by: RB1019 | October 18, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Yes to both public observations: that the fed workers in general are less qualified and are paid more than their counterparts in the private sectors for similar job tasks. One reason, amongt others; is that the fed had hired more spanish speaking people for the sake of diversity, even to import spanish speaking people from overseas (Portorico, etc...). The fed should use our tax money to aid our local spanish speaking people here in the US to a good education and hire them later when they graduated. Do not hire anymore overseas spanish speaking people for the sake of diversity in the federal work places.

Posted by: tommy5 | October 18, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

The whole issue of comparing federal pay to private pay is a red herring for Republicans to feed hatred for the government so that people will think things were better if the Republicans were in charge. I have memories of the policies of both parties going back to LBJ. Starting with Reagan the Republicans, when in charge, systematically destroy the ability of the bureaucracy to carry out their statutory missions. The impact on morale and performance is quite noticeable. In terms of pay and benefits, comparing someone who flips burgers to a government scientist is ridiculous. The nature of the federal workforce has changed dramatically over the last 20 years as the number of lower paid clerical workers has been reduced and higher paid analysts have become more prevalent. In short, Cantor does not know what he is talking about.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | October 18, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

...yet no one asks: "is this federal worker's work in compliance with the Constitution?"

If it's not, fire him! Fire Him Today!

(sigh)

Posted by: sosueme1 | October 18, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

During the Bush Admin. everything was contracted out to BAH, SAIC, GD, etc. so while it looked like the federal worker #s didn't grow, the cost to the taxpayer was greater than if they had hired federal workers. The GOP just likes to play this shell game through contracts funded by the federal govt to support federal agencies by private companies that give them big campaign donations. They are hypocrites and won't get my vote.

Posted by: Sojouner | October 18, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Look; how smart does one have to be to see that the 'Publicans want to purge the rolls of federal workers so they can privatize the jobs to pay off their "friends," i.e., contributors?

The thing that really bothers me is that these attitudes/charges/smears get major ink when they should be seen for what they are and roundly dismissed, preferably without comment.

Posted by: mini2 | October 18, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse


Everyone wants "smaller government", except that they dont want any reductions made to defense, homeland security, social security, FDA, forest service, eduction...etc.

Posted by: nuke41 | October 18, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Bush replaced many Government workers and what did we get?
Higher Taxes and Sloppy service!

Cheap labor has a high price; although the workers earn peanuts their Contract Company CEO and Supervisors rake in Millions. Over all Contract Workers are more expensive than Government Workers; but those Political Kickbacks made by Contract Companies to campaign coffers laundered through PACs and Chamber of Commerce is a plus.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | October 18, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

In the GOP’s recently released “Pledge to America,” Republicans make clear that they will continue the time honored practice of kicking the hell out of that most favored of political scapegoats—the American federal government worker. The Pledge promises to “impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector.” This has been a mantra of the DC political scene since Reagan, but was kicked into overdrive with Bush (43). Under the last Administration, anything that could be contracted in lieu of additional federal hires was so contracted. This was especially true in the Defense Department where everything from cooks to private armies were contracted to “save” military manpower. If this policy returns the health and wealth of DC’s beltway bandits, I’m sure that these fine examples of the military-industrial complex will find some way to show their appreciation to that Grand Old Party. But I do not write here today to bury contractors, but rather to mitigate the plight of the US government workforce.

Having exhibited brilliance in support of their respective winning presidential campaigns, many newly selected political appointees have little or no experience with the federal government. They enter their positions determined to support the new President while trusting no one outside the political appointee bubble. With regard to federal workers, even the most junior political appointee will exude the attitude that he/she is there to make sure that the career workforce “does its job.”

Now to be clear, this is not all political appointees and tends to be strongest with newer and lower-ranked appointees. Career government workers brace for the arrival of new political appointees and are perpetually hopeful that this time will be better than the last.

So I have a suggestion for the GOP—save money and increase competence in the federal government by reducing the number of political appointees and promoting career workforce experts into positions of greater responsibility. All positions below those requiring Senate confirmation should be converted to career positions with the exception of personal staff (and those appointees should be greatly reduced).

All career government workers swear an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution, no matter who’s the President. Now isn’t that the kind of change Republicans can get behind?

Posted by: rstagner | October 18, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Here's what's happened - the private sector has outsourced many of the good paying white collar jobs. The blue collar manufacturing jobs are long gone. The private sector middle class is now a shadow of it's former self. So now, you're comparing the federal workforce to a diminished white collar workforce. The federal pay system has/had equity with the private sector, was probably even low compared to the private sector. The anti-fed folks, rather than digging in and demanding fair compensation for themselves in the private sector are now trying to diminish the federal force. Well, you can't outsource what's inherently a government function. So, all the banks and financial houses with billionaire leaders, and the cheap labor of India and Asia to thank for their profits should take a look in the proverbial "mirror" rather than throw stones at the federal force. A pox on all of corporate America that has outsourced the good jobs. You reap what you sow!!!

Posted by: DontGetIt | October 18, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Tommy5, in case you've forgotten, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens--this has been the law since the early 20th century.

Posted by: CherieOK | October 18, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I loved working for Club Fed, and I aspire to go back one day when I want a "lifestyle" job. But it's ridiculous that Club Fed gets gargantuan risk-free pensions while the private sector has to rely on miniscule 401-K allowances. It's absurd that 99% of Club Fed gets performance based bonuses. And it's downright unfair that Club Fed bureaucrats get life tenure. If Club Fed wants to maintain these valuable benefits, their salaries should be halved. They'd still be a lot luckier than us suckers in the private workforce who have so much of our hard-earned salaries confiscated to pay for the superior Club Fed class.

Posted by: Dellis2010 | October 18, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

If Republics have a dim view of federal workers, is it okay if us federal workers have a dim view of Republicans?

Because, yanno, some of us do.

Also, are we allowed to be utterly contemptuous of people such as Tommy5, who appears to have been deeply influenced by psychotropic hallucinogens when he wrote that the federal government went so far as "even to import spanish speaking people from overseas (Portorico, etc...)."

Portorico, huh? I'm not finding that location in Google.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | October 18, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If republican thugs don't like something, that should be a badge of honor since they don't like any human decency. I wouldn't put much faith in what is published by the Washington Post. After all, it is bastion of right wing establishment.

Posted by: kevin1231 | October 18, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, of course the republicans are against Federal workers. They are middle class!!
It would be interesting to know how many positions, departments have been outsourced overseas.

Posted by: kathlenec | October 18, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"But 80 percent of the GOP believes federal pay and benefits should be on par with compensation at comparable private-sector jobs."

So republicans and their conservative supporters think federal employees are stupid and lazy, yet, they want to compensate them the same as their private sector counterparts. This is the oxy-moron, hypocrisy current republican party. If you are following these people, you need your head examine.

By-the-way GOP, as a contractor supporting a federal agency, most of the federal workers claim they are REPUBLICAN/CONSERVATIVE!!!! This current republican party has no clue what the common, everyday worker experiences or believes. What a joke! Your rail on government but most of the people who have government jobs, think like you. That is the real oxy-moron. Conservatives working in government, railing against government. You people are TRULY touched. Bunch of whiners. Get a job!!!!!

Posted by: ajackson3 | October 18, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

As usual, the Heritage Study is nonsense since you would expect a Ph.D economist to earn more than a janitor--you have to compare COMPARABLE jobs. There is data on this, but conservatives are experts at ignoring data.

"Jeffrey Keefe, an associate professor at the university's (Rutgers) School of Management and Labor Relations, said public employees do not make more than comparable private employees.

According to Keefe, comparing private and public employees with the same educational level, experience and work schedule shows private employees make 11 percent more in wages and 5 percent more in total compensation than public workers."

If you want to see some actual data, you can go to
http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/public-sector-compensation-its-the-denominator-that-matters-most/

or

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/09/15/study-finds-public-workers-make-less/ (From the Wall street Journal.)

This is just another right wing myth.

Posted by: lensch | October 18, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Well--- you can see by the comments that this article brought out responding government employees in force... They are quick to " shoot the messenger" and ignore the message...because they are part of the overpaid government work force.

Posted by: jackhorst1 | October 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone outside of the government really have any idea how or how well it works. It would be nice for people to be more educated about this so it's not just a matter of ideology.

Posted by: rocks11 | October 18, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My bro took a job as Fed and $25K pay cut from his job in private industry as an auditor with a Big 3 accounting firm and that doesn't include his yearly bonus. his bennies were better working for a big three accounting firm. Only advantage to working as Fed for him ws job security you don't get canned if there isn't any business coming in and not traeling 20 days out of the month.

Fed pay and bennies are not a secret. They are on line. If you can't figure out what benefits a Fed gets then maybe you should be running for senator in DE or for Congress in VA's 11 House district. A Fed gets 4 hrs of sick leave a pay period, 4hrs annual leave for years 0 to3. From 3 to 15years they get 6hrs of annual leave a pay period and after 15 years 8hrs a pay period.

The amount they pay as their share of medical insurance is mandated by Congress. It ain't free. They pay I believe 28% and the govt 72%.

Now to all really want to pay air trafic contronellers, intel analysts, auditors, security specialist the average wage. There are very few file clerks left in Fed govt. Try living in DC area on the average wage. Shame DC area doesnt have average housing prices.

Federal employee unions need to do a better PR job and shut Hannity, Rush and Neil up!

Posted by: sheepherder | October 18, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone outside of the government really have any idea how, or how well it works? It would be nice for people to be more educated about this so it's not just a matter of ideology. So fewer polls and more information.

Posted by: rocks11 | October 18, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It would not surprise me if many of the federal jobs created were during the Bush Administration and when the Republicans ran Congress.

Posted by: clarenceshaynes1 | October 18, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

So, jackhorst, we Feds are supposed to just sit silently while the Republicans spread lies about our pay and productivity?

Posted by: Raysmom | October 18, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Go ahead GOP make the federal employees an issue this campain season. Go ahead alienate another group. The Republican party has become the party of alienation. Just take a close look at the Republican's far right wing, the Tea Party. Go ahead alienate another group. The GOP is adrift at sea.

As for Eric Cantor, he should be the last person complaining about government workers. Republicans have refused to cut their own Congressional salaries or give up their lifetime health care benefits and pension plans. He doesn't even pay into Social Security, but yet he complains about this too.

Mr. Cantor and the GOP in general need to mindful of the fact that in 1995, Oklahoma federal workers and their children were collateral damage when the hate mongering against Federal workers got out of control. Remember Timothy McVeigh? I do!

The Republicans need to back away from this government employee issue. But hey, maybe they want federal employees to vote for Democrats. Seems that way to me.

Posted by: mjmann | October 18, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Neither the GOP or democrats have any love for the Federal employees. Their only concern is to remain in power.

Posted by: jdg2 | October 18, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Any day now, teabaggers are going to start holding up Timothy McVeigh as a hero and a prophet. I'm sure many of them already do so in secret.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | October 18, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

If pay cuts are coming, start at the top, our President, and work your way down to the bottom please.

Posted by: randykree | October 18, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Cantor's use of Heritage Foundation's so called research calls into question about their methodology in presenting their argument. Another issue was not raised was the fact that Congress' staffers and aides are paid lot more than what is qualified in the private sector simply of connection and nothing else. The GOP is making noise about the federal workers' pay because they contribute to the bashing them and eventually a person will take it with their own hand to do something about it (it is a repeat of what they did back in 1995 before they stop doing that). This has the hallmark of campaigning with noise in between.

Cantor's not qualified to even discuss the issue, period!

Posted by: beeker25 | October 18, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

American Heritage Foundation....yea, like they are a fair group to anyone but their rethuglicon Bush buddies....

Posted by: nowhine | October 18, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Here we go again! The Republican's do not like Federal employee's period! Their goal is to out source all the Federal jobs to their favorite corporation, and calling it cost effective. Nobody knows if it's cost effective because the Republicans in congress refuse to let these surveys take place, knowing that the private sector employee's in most cases now doing the work instead of government "grunt's" are paid just above the poverty level, and the executives salary of these companies are in line with CEO's of the financial industry. Plus, take a look at the out sourcing to an supposedly Alaska minority contractor that used an Alaska tribe as a front to grow into a multi-million dollar corporation allededly fraudulently, and gave the tribe but a few dollars for their "help". Sure government employees have good benefits, comparable to most larger corporation benny's, however the the Blue Collar workers pay is based on the prevailing wage in the region he/she are assigned. So, the private sector comparison sets the wages for the government employee. An example of out sourcing wages is in Nevada, where an Army contractor is the largest employer in the area, and the average household income is $15,000+ less than the rest of the states average household income. The Republican's in congress advocate people living in poverty doing government services except for their own pay, and this is for their job security. We know who gets the real payoff! The Alaska tribe fiasco is what the Republicans want more of in the government! We should remember that most politicians belong to the Congressional Recipients Organization Of Kickbacks Society; AKA CROOKS!

Posted by: honestronb | October 18, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Federal workers are less productive as a group. There are some hard-working civil servants, but they only comprise about 10-20 percent of the entire workforce. Why? Because, UNLIKE the private sector, the dead weight are not fired or asked to leave. In fact, because the womb of the Federal government is so "safe," the bad employees stay a lifetime. Because of the civil service protections, they can't be fired. So what happens? The productive workers either shoulder the burden of handling more and more of the work that the less productive incompetents can't do, OR they simply leave. So what do you have left? A bunch of lazy, incompetent overpaid workers that could never survive in the private sector. Yes, I was in Club Fed for nearly a decade, and I have seen this with my own eyes. I also saw a GS-15 Step 10 ($180k with benefits) spend nearly a week on the taxpayer's dime constructing a office door display ridiculing Sarah Palin. Yes, this is how your tax dollars are being spent.

Posted by: fingal | October 18, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Federal workers are less productive as a group. There are some hard-working civil servants, but they only comprise about 10-20 percent of the entire workforce. Why? Because, UNLIKE the private sector, the dead weight are not fired or asked to leave. In fact, because the womb of the Federal government is so "safe," the bad employees stay a lifetime. Because of the civil service protections, they can't be fired. So what happens? The productive workers either shoulder the burden of handling more and more of the work that the less productive incompetents can't do, OR they simply leave. So what do you have left? A bunch of lazy, incompetent overpaid workers that could never survive in the private sector. Yes, I was in Club Fed for nearly a decade, and I have seen this with my own eyes. I also saw a GS-15 Step 10 ($180k with benefits) spend nearly a week on the taxpayer's dime constructing a office door display ridiculing a GOP candidate. Yes, this is how your tax dollars are being spent.

Posted by: fingal | October 18, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Well--- you can see by the comments that this article brought out responding government employees in force... They are quick to " shoot the messenger" and ignore the message...because they are part of the overpaid government work force.

Posted by: jackhorst1
==========================

Here's part of a position description from a current federal vacancy:

The incumbent is a senior employee on the Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative (NSOI) team and is responsible for overseeing and conducting engagements with countries vulnerable to nuclear smuggling. He/She conducts outreach activities with a variety of donor countries, international organizations, and relevant U.S. programs to ensure that new assistance meshes well with ongoing aid. The incumbent drafts/or oversees the drafting of assessments of designate countries judged to be particularly vulnerable to smuggling. The employee will train and lead a team of analysts to drafts assessments drawing on information from a wide range of sources, particularly U.S. embassy in the subject country, and oversees the review and approval of these drafts through the U.S. interaagency process.

Two questions:

1) What do you think an appropriate salary for this position is, given the responsibilities and qualifications that go with it?

2) What position in the private sector is comparable?

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | October 18, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

When I wrote the books "Government Job Finder," "Non-Profits & Education Job Finder," and "Professional's Job Finder" (formerly "Professional's Private Sector Job Finder), I learned first hand that government workers -- including those of the federal government -- are not overpaid compared to the private sector. That's because I examined scores of accurate studies of their compensation (and included them in my books). I know that's not the way things are done these days -- actually getting the facts. Why let facts get in the way of the political demagoguery of politicians, especially those on the radical right.

Sadly the poll on which this article was based does nothing to correct the false perception the public obviously has of federal government workers. I can unhesitatingly state that they are the most competent group of government workers -- far more competent than state government (state patronage workers are easily the least competent and most corrupt group of government workers). Overall, from my research for my Job Finder books, as well as my personal experience working with local, state, and federal governments, the typical federal employee is a hard working, conscientious, dedicated public servant who usually is paid a fair wage for her efforts.

I wish the same could be said of the typical private sector employee who is all too often grossly overpaid, arrogant, and rarely dedicated to making anything but the most money he can make for the least work. "Pinstripe patronage" dominates the private sector as a job candidate's connections often seem to be the prime criterion for hiring. This assessment does not suggest that there are not millions upon millions of hard working, dedicated, and very competent private sector employees. It does suggest, however, that they are no better than federal government employees -- and generally better compensated.

Sadly the perceptions revealed by this poll are a far cry from reality. But why let any facts get in the way?

Posted by: dl49 | October 18, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

While it makes points with the base taking on federal workers its also dumb.

I'd like to know, whoever wins in November, how they are going to create 25,000,000 new well-paying jobs in the next two years. Even with this amount of job creation it will only make a little dent in the deficit.

Who is fooling who?

Posted by: Maddogg | October 18, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Cantor. There is a marked difference when it comes to unemployment and job security in the federal sector

The Republican answer, of course, is to make job security in the federal sector as abysmally bad as it is in the public sector rather than the other way around.

Job security in the private sector is nonexistent thanks in large part to GOP's willingness to aid and abet the transfer of so many private sector jobs overseas. Let's let Republicans do what they do best and see how many public sector jobs they can send to China and India as well.

Posted by: exco | October 18, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Technically, Eric Cantor is a federal employee.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | October 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

federal workers might be underworked and overpaid but the real problem lies in unethical behavior, fraud and waste within government and government jobs. no one seems to be accountable. for example, the united states postal service has lost over $11
BILLION DOLLARS the last three years. during this same three year period postal management has paid out millions and possibly billions of dollars in pay-for-performance bonus money to supervisors and above! this bonus money was paid out each year and every year that the postal service was losing billions. how can postal management justify one nickel in bonus money when
their orginization is losing billions? by the way, the exact amount of the millions or billions of dollars of bonus money and to whom it was paid does not have to be disclosed to the public according to a recent federal court decision. the postal service fought to keep this information secret. in theory i guess postmaster general potter could give himself and his friends a billion dollar bonus each year and wouldn't have to disclose the information. hey wait a minute, maybe this is exactly what is happening and the postal service would have made a profit the last three years if not for these unethical bonus payments! call your local congressional rep and demand an investigation of the u s postal service's "bonusgate!"

Posted by: ron1441 | October 18, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

What are they trying to do during the midterm elections or President's elections ? Spreading fears, smears, angry, and propogranda is what their mission are...They're much like a communist compare to the former Soviet Union and North Korea. It is a shame that we are all Americans and trying to move on but the Republicans have NOT move on since they lost to a Democract President. They just don't get it and they had their way the last 8 years under President Bush. Give us a break ! Don't make us the issue during the elections. We haven't make the private sector the issue, eh ?

Posted by: soils2002 | October 18, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Many GS pay grades are below the poverty level for families. Cantor should go online to find out the pay scales of federal workers. Most start at below the median income all the way down to poverty. Even increases for time and experience don't pay enough to support a family. Some people live in an alternate state of reality, without even taking a toke.

Posted by: clairevb | October 18, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are a disgusting group and are about to join the Whigs and the Federalists as a former political party. Their "me first"...."amoral" approach to what they call government is bankrupt and is on the way out the door. We won't miss them.

Posted by: fourklines | October 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Do military service members count as government workers?

Posted by: teddywilson | October 18, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Why oh why can't the fed bashers get it through their skulls that the federal retirement plan *is* a 401K, just like in the private sector? The CSRS has been gone for a long time, replaced by the 401K FERS system. There are still some employees left under CSRS, but that system hasn't been available to anyone joining the federal govt. since 1994 when I joined. I'm not sure when CSRS was dropped - maybe the late 1980s?

Anyway, maybe if they win both houses, the Rs will shut down government, just like Newt's Congress did in the 1990s. Those closed museums, parks, and Social Security offices sure went over well with the general public.

Posted by: thingsfallapart | October 18, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

What would be interesting to compare these results with earlier results (provided these questions have been asked before). This would be even more interesting if the previous polls were taken during a Republican administration. I suspect that some of the high numbers for Republicans would be lower if there were a Republican in the the White House.

Posted by: blpeyton | October 18, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

My personal experience with federal employees has been very positive. From the IRS to the Social Security Administration they have been polite, helpfull and knowledgable. I have never held a government position since my tour of active duty.

Posted by: sauerkraut | October 18, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"Well--- you can see by the comments that this article brought out responding government employees in force... They are quick to " shoot the messenger" and ignore the message...because they are part of the overpaid government work force."

Posted by: jackhorst1 | October 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Pas moi, jackasst1

Posted by: mini2 | October 18, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes Republicans, let's have a hiring freeze in the middle of this recession. That'll set the country on the right track.

Oh, and by the way, the public sector is LOSING jobs and the private sector is GAINING jobs. Just look at the latest BLS report. But wait, that involves reading comprehension and logic, which is beyond their intellectual levels.

Posted by: fanofFDR | October 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

God forbid Mr Okeefe should actually commit journalism.

Posted by: zukermand | October 18, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Three points on this issue, when I moved from private sector to the federal government 6 years ago, i took a 40% pay cut to do essentially the same job without the business development/marketing aspect. Second, most of the hires I have made in the past 2 years have been retired military, men and women coming out of the military after doing their rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They get 5-30 point veteran's preferences depending on time served, and disability rating. So when you say you disapprove of the federal workforce, a large percentage of it is, in fact converted military. So all you Republicans who hate Federal workers, you now hate the Retired Military in Droves. Point three, most of the lower paying jobs (e.g., mail room, janitorial, most secreterial, and other similar positions that do not involve governmental functions as defined by OMB) have been privatized. So those jobs are done by contractors; and even though they technically exist in the wage-grade and general service pay scales, very few government workers actully still sit in those slots. Those that do are generally replaced by contractors when they retire. As a result, if you are going to actually do a VALID pay study, you need to do 3 things, actually look at the wage-grade and general service schedules that are being used on a REGIONAL basis--meaning there are actual Federal workers in those slots and in those pay scales(the pay scale in Alabama is NOT the same as that in Hawaii or D.C.) and make VALID comparisons that way. You also need to look at the YEARS of EXPERIENCE and EDUCATION, especially when looking at open positions. This would stop the artificial and aribitrary skewing of the pay scale for the open positions. Generally, the people who retire are at the TOP of the organization. These people have the MOST experience and generally make the MOST money. It only stands to reason that as the SENIOR people RETIRE, that the bulk of the resultant open position will be at the UPPER END OF THE PAY SCHEDULES. Thirdly, you need to completely eliminate from your study jobs in the private sector that have no eqivalent in the government, like working in McDonalds. It would just be incredibly refreshing for those of us who work for the federal government, put in large numbers of hours we don't get paid for, to actually be treated to an employment study that was done properly, looked at data properly, and represented the results in a truly unbiased fashion. That, however, is unlikely to happen, because it will not meet the needs of the political lackys it is done for.

Posted by: drmammal1 | October 18, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

This article is why Federal workers who are Dems should get out there and vote Democratic. The Republicans are out to get Federal workers because so many of the Bushies lost their jobs. Unfortunately, there are still too many left in Federal service who burrowed in or hid.

Posted by: pkbishop1 | October 18, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I retired in 2007 after 30 years of federal service. Throughout those 30 years study after study showed that when comparing comparable jobs, federal employees were earning significantly less in salary than those in the private sector. When the total compensation package was considered the gap narrowed but still favored the private sector worker. Not once do I recall reading about or hearing a member of the GOP express any concern about this inequity. No one gets rich as a federal civil servant, but one thing you can count is the Republican party trying to screw the middle class.

Posted by: MrSagacious | October 18, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Cantor is up for Re-election 7th Distrct Virginia, vote him out.

Posted by: truthspeaker11 | October 18, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Republicans may have little love for federal workers.... I have NO LOve for Republicans!
Further, federal workers have good union representation, and federal wages. But unions have been losing ground ever since Reagan took office. Over the past 30 years, wages have Not kept up. In fact, wages have largely stayed stagnant or regressed. So if it seems as though federal workers are earning so much more than a worker in private industry, that's because private workers' wages has not kept up! I have NO animosity towards federal workers.

Posted by: HopeForAmerica | October 19, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't the administration and OMB/OPM countering this spew and b.s. info. Call them out for what they are and quit this GOP led "Bash the Federal Worker" crusade.

OPM was suppose to complete a detailed and complete examination of this many many months ago. Once again, they fail! Dismantle the OPM or start from scratch. They serve absolutely no proper purpose in this govt society!

And quit re-voting these Cantor lieing cows back into office people!

Posted by: darbyohara | October 19, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Meticulously studying the Bush administration and its management of all federal agencies should have been a HUGE eye opener. Sadly, many Americans did not study what he did closely enough.

Bush brought his Texas way of doing business to Washington. Regulators in various federal agencies were laid off. Many of his appointments were token appointments by Texans.

While I love Texas, what Bush did was flat out wrong. His appointments were disrespectful to Republicans from other states (many of whom were better qualified).

The net result was a very poorly managed federal government under his administration.

Looking deeper, why would Bush want to do such a thing? A person with an elementary education can figure it out. Having lack of federal regulation benefits big oil and the big banks they are linked to. Bush used poor oversight in key federal agencies it to his advantage to allow the free reign of big oil & big banks.

In my life time this was the most damaging thing I have ever studied in the history of our government. I vowed never to vote for a president with links to big oil.

Americans should do the same. Make no mistake: Big oil cannot be trusted. They can and will do anything they can to seize control of government. We are witnessing Chapter 4 of this right now.

Chapter 1: 1970 oil crisis
Chapter 2: 1979 oil crisis
Chapter 3: 2008 oil crisis (aka oil ripoff)
Chapter 4: Big oil Congress buyout (Rove)

Wake up Washington Post! Focus on Big Oil. You will find the real players.

When big oil is in charge they don't want anyone in their way. Pay raises for the military (to fight our oil wars). Troops love Republicans because they dish out more pay raises. As a former US Marine I know this first hand (thanks for the cash President Reagan).

America and it's military need to wake up and call out the villains in this scandal that never seems to let up over their pent up demand to screw up government. The only way to cure this is to shift away from big oil (and politicians who support it) into alternative energy resources. For the sake of our children and the future of the nation, we must do this.

So, this is not about federal workers. It's about repairing our federal government that Bush and his big oil cohorts screwed up. Given the chance they will surely do it all over again.

Suckers.


Posted by: ringlingj | October 19, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Meticulously studying the Bush administration and its management of all federal agencies should have been a HUGE eye opener. Sadly, many Americans did not study what he did closely enough.

Bush brought his Texas way of doing business to Washington. Regulators in various federal agencies were laid off. Many of his appointments were token appointments by Texans.

While I love Texas, what Bush did was flat out wrong. His appointments were disrespectful to Republicans from other states (many of whom were better qualified).

The net result was a very poorly managed federal government under his administration.

Looking deeper, why would Bush want to do such a thing? A person with an elementary education can figure it out. Having lack of federal regulation benefits big oil and the big banks they are linked to. Bush used poor oversight in key federal agencies it to his advantage to allow the free reign of big oil & big banks.

In my life time this was the most damaging thing I have ever studied in the history of our government. I vowed never to vote for a president with links to big oil.

Americans should do the same. Make no mistake: Big oil cannot be trusted. They can and will do anything they can to seize control of government. We are witnessing Chapter 4 of this right now.

Chapter 1: 1970 oil crisis
Chapter 2: 1979 oil crisis
Chapter 3: 2008 oil crisis (aka oil ripoff)
Chapter 4: Big oil Congress buyout (Rove)

Wake up Washington Post! Focus on Big Oil. You will find the real players.

When big oil is in charge they don't want anyone in their way. Pay raises for the military (to fight our oil wars). Troops love Republicans because they dish out more pay raises. As a former US Marine I know this first hand (thanks for the cash President Reagan).

America and it's military need to wake up and call out the villains in this scandal that never seems to let up over their pent up demand to screw up government. The only way to cure this is to shift away from big oil (and politicians who support it) into alternative energy resources. For the sake of our children and the future of the nation, we must do this.

So, this is not about federal workers. It's about repairing our federal government that Bush and his big oil cohorts screwed up. Given the chance they will surely do it all over again.

Suckers.

Posted by: ringlingj | October 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

i don't believe this article, My husband is a federal employee, he works as a post man and let me just say....I have never known a harder working Person in my life!

Being a mail man is a very difficult job!

You try getting to work by 6 am and working your tail off until 6 pm every day. working in the snow and the burning heat. risking life and limb walking door to door on slick sidewalks and fighting off violent dogs on a daily basis and tell me they don't work hard!

Their bosses make them run their guts out every day!

No one earns their money like a mail man.

And despite your misguided article We will still vote republican!

Posted by: bbitemee | October 19, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

there are a lot of Government workers in Washington and this just sounds like the posts way of trying to sway their readers in Washington to vote Democrap.

Don't fall for the lies and hype!

Posted by: bbitemee | October 19, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans have little love for federal workers"

Well, they outta know too since so many of them on on the public dole while simultaneously denouncing it.

Posted by: Kelly14 | October 19, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I hope none of the TeaPartyRepublicans work. They must all be business owners. No working American in their right mind can vote for a republican.

I guess some can be mad enough to vote against their own best interest. Those who can -- please answer this!!! Cutbacks, reduction in government, balancing the federal budget are all republican policies they want to do just as soon as they get power-- TELL ME HOW CAN THESE POLICIES PRODUCE JOBS????

Posted by: jbass14 | October 19, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I just wish the post would do some investigative reporting on the abuses within the civil service: hiring unqualified persons to high positions, appointing friends, discriminating against veterans, stealing, etc.

Posted by: cwheckman | October 19, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

fourklines..what are you 12 years old.
You can honestly look at what’s happening in this country under democratic RULE and disparage Republicans. As a current government employee I can honestly say that the majority of the Fubar policies of the current administration is a huge factor in the low morale and dissatisfaction of many government workers right now. I’ve never seen it so bad. We are subjected to political appointees and people placed in Senior Management positions who either can't or won't deal with agency management issues occurring because of the lack of experience or skill sets of newly appointed managers. Managers who brutalize government workers while building their own little empires. We see the bloated budgets given to private industry to do less than adequate jobs while charging a fortune to do them. One case in point the FBI project that’s 100M over budget and inadequate. Fat cat Contractors who provide personnel to work in government positions charging the government $200-300 an hour while paying the actual person in the position a pittance. One contract I’m personally aware of was 590,000.00 annually to provide two administrative positions that should have been PFTs for under 186,000.00 a year. Do the math.. for this contract alone for just one office , we…the tax payers are paying over $400,000.00 for no reason. Multiply that by 5000 offices …oh gee,,tell me again about a deficit and our children being responsible for trillions!!.
What amazes me is that The White House continues to appoint their cronies oh..I mean their (Tzars) and/or managers who are really just pulling down big salaries and expense accounts adding to the problem. Not only can they not seem to figure out how to actually fix the problems they seem to all be under the misconception that the job is really about power and their own salaries and not about the job and changing the problems destroying this country. And fourklines..I have a little reality check for you..I’m a Republican..and in reality..it doesn’t matter which party runs the government ...they're all politicians!!! They’re all usually about the same. However, if a large number of the people in charge whichever the party are immoral, corrupt and/or have the attitude this administration has then we have a serious problem.
Unfortunately, it seem to be mostly Democrats( I used to be one) who are under the delusion that all Americans who do not share THEIR opinions on every subject must be too uneducated, too unsophisticated, and/or too uninformed to be able to look at facts and make their own decisions.. in essence..if we disagree with them on anything then they (being so much more intelligent) need to take over the responsibility to overrule our feeble opinions and decide for us even if they have to lie and cheat to do it. Which darling..is exactly what we have running the government now the "Emperor’s New Clothes Administration"

Posted by: pmr2as | October 21, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

fourklines..what are you 12 years old.
You can honestly look at what’s happening in this country under democratic RULE and disparage Republicans. As a current government employee I can honestly say that the majority of the Fubar policies of the current administration is a huge factor in the low morale and dissatisfaction of many government workers right now. I’ve never seen it so bad. We are subjected to political appointees and people placed in Senior Management positions who either can't or won't deal with agency management issues occurring because of the lack of experience or skill sets of newly appointed managers. Managers who brutalize government workers while building their own little empires. We see the bloated budgets given to private industry to do less than adequate jobs while charging a fortune to do them. One case in point the FBI project that’s 100M over budget and inadequate. Fat cat Contractors who provide personnel to work in government positions charging the government $200-300 an hour while paying the actual person in the position a pittance. One contract I’m personally aware of was 590,000.00 annually to provide two administrative positions that should have been PFTs for under 186,000.00 a year. Do the math.. for this contract alone for just one office , we…the tax payers are paying over $400,000.00 for no reason. Multiply that by 5000 offices …oh gee,,tell me again about a deficit and our children being responsible for trillions!!.
What amazes me is that The White House continues to appoint their cronies oh..I mean their (Tzars) and/or managers who are really just pulling down big salaries and expense accounts adding to the problem. Not only can they not seem to figure out how to actually fix the problems they seem to all be under the misconception that the job is really about power and their own salaries and not about the job and changing the problems destroying this country. And fourklines..I have a little reality check for you..I’m a Republican..and in reality..it doesn’t matter which party runs the government ...they're all politicians!!! They’re all usually about the same. However, if a large number of the people in charge whichever the party are immoral, corrupt and/or have the attitude this administration has then we have a serious problem.
Unfortunately, it seem to be mostly Democrats( I used to be one) who are under the delusion that all Americans who do not share THEIR opinions on every subject must be too uneducated, too unsophisticated, and/or too uninformed to be able to look at facts and make their own decisions.. in essence..if we disagree with them on anything then they (being so much more intelligent) need to take over the responsibility to overrule our feeble opinions and decide for us even if they have to lie and cheat to do it. Which darling..is exactly what we have running the government now the "Emperor’s New Clothes Administration"

Posted by: pmr2as | October 21, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"How the hell do they know what federal employees are paid?" Gage said of the poll's respondents.
What a hateful, deceitful, self-serving guy this gage fellow is. Fedgov wages information is readily available and all, all reliable objective sources show fedgov employees to be making 30-40% higher wages than non-gov workers doing the same work. He is spouting hate speech if you ask me and will incite violence from unstable people.

Posted by: chilled | October 23, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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