Pay Freeze: Everybody in the Pool!

Lots of people who follow the federal scene think that Congress will revisit the idea of a 2011 federal pay freeze before the November elections, which aren’t that far off.

If it happens it is unlikely that President Obama (who has proposed a very modest 1.4 percent January raise for white collar civil servants) would veto any freeze legislation.

Nervous politicians who are both running against Washington and working feverishly to make sure they continue to have jobs in Washington, could stick the pay freeze in a must-pass-must-sign piece of legislation.

Would it be politically smart? Would it be fair?

Feds we’re hearing from are all over the place on the issue. Some think it might be a necessary evil to send a message that the government is trying to hold down costs. Others say they would buy into it if Congress led the way in jumping in the pay freeze pool. Some retirees are questioning why, if they don’t get a cost of living adjustment next year, working feds should.

  • “If they are going to freeze pay raises, why not do it to all federal employees. Including Congress and their staffers and others.

    “The proposal freezes the pay raises of some of the feds who wear uniforms, such as the Border Patrol, ICE, Federal Protective Service, the various Police Forces, and Park Rangers and some who occasionally wear the blue (windbreakers) with the yellow letters on the back: ATF, DEA &FBI. What about the largest groups who wear Green (2 shades) and Blue (2 shades) Uniforms? Shouldn’t they also be included? Shouldn’t all uniformed personnel be treated the same?” H at Department of Energy

  • “Your column about a possible surprise pay freeze caught my eye. I think the politicians are too chicken to do something like that, but if you broke the story, would you be in line for a pullet surprise?” Stan The Man

    (One can only hope. The one with the funny spelling, Pulitizer, has eluded me for many years. MC)

  • “In defense of the government worker, I never heard private industry screaming during the 90’s for parity pay when private pay was higher than the Federal employee. Now the Federal employee is paid a higher salary than private industry. Too bad private industry – that is life. When the economy gets back on its feet you will get your generous stock options and large bonus again. In the meantime think of ways to make our economy boom again and stop your sniveling.” Michael O. Kreps, Las Vegas

COLA vs. Pay Raise

  • “If inflation is so low that retired Federal employees and Social Security recipients won’t get an increase next year, why should current federal employees?” Don

    (Pay raises and COLAs are two very different cats. The federal pay raise is supposed to be based on changes in private sector pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics makes the wage comparison surveys. The actual pay decision is both fiscal and political each year. Congress and the White House make that call.

    Inflation adjustments for federal-military-Social Security retirees are based on the rise in living costs as measured by the BLS. In 2008 retirees got a much larger COLA increase – 5.8 percent – than federal workers got in the form of a pay raise. MC).

  • “I have several friends and two relatives, all of whom work in the private sector, who took pay cuts in some form or other last year. In fact, one of the five worked for a state government. The pay cuts were between 5 percent and 25 percent. Obviously as a federal civil servant, I don’t want a pay freeze in 2011 when I expect health insurance premiums will, again, go up. That said, I would be willing to hold the line IF Congress takes a substantial pay cut and if our elected leaders, both political parties, would get serious about debt reduction and eliminate pork programs and stop trying to spend us out of a recession.” Mark A.

Performance Summit

Top names in managing the people-side of government are meeting today to talk about ways to get the most (and best) out of federal workers. The “Executive Update 2010” conference is sponsored by the Senior Executive Association’s Professional Development League in affiliation with Deloitte Consulting Human Capital Practice.

Participants include Shelley Metzenbaum, Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at the Office of Management and Budget; John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management; Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Gould; NTEU President Colleen Kelley; and Federal Labor Relations Authority Chair Carol Waller Pope.

For a real time briefing on the conference, listen to our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show today at 10 a.m.

We’ll also have the latest information on the progress of the National Security Personnel System rollback, and an update on the possibility of a federal pay freeze. You can listen live at on your computer anywhere in the world, or in the DC area 1500 AM.

To reach me:

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