When it comes to running the people side of the government, your CEO and Board of Directors are miles apart. And thanks to years of congressional foot-dragging we face a government shutdown in early March unless the two sides can agree to keep things going until the next showdown.
The CEO, in your case, is the President. The Board of Directors is the 100 members of the Senate and the 435 members of the House.
The President put a freeze on federal pay raises through until (at least) January 2013. But he said that regular promotions, and within-grade step increases (worth 3 percent) would continue. He has said he would consider other options, including furloughs. And he wants to hire 15,000 new people.
The Board of Directors, at least the House side, is playing harder ball. It is working on extending the pay freeze until January, 2016. And a plan to furlough workers one day a month over a 10 month period. The latest would freeze the within grade raises (which workers get every one, two or three years based on time in grade and satisfactory performance) and promotions. And reduce the workforce via attrition (backfilling only one of every two vacancies as they occur.)
The Federal Times estimates that a two-year freeze on within grade raises would save the government (and cost employees) $2.5 billion.
What’s next? Maybe feds could be required to sleep at the office (like a lot of members of Congress are doing to save money) so they would never be late. (If the pay freezes last long enough, the office may become their only residence.) Or perhaps civil servants should, like craftsmen of old, be required to bring their own tools and office supplies. Clearly we’ve coddled them too long!
So how are stunned employees reacting? Well, let’s say morale isn’t at its highest. For example:
“I process appeals for Social Security. It used to be that I could assume we would make a mistake in 3% of the cases. With the new hires, no standards, and a rush to get fresh bodies in the trenches, it is now more like 30%. The information given out on the national 800 number is more often wrong than right. I encourage people to call three times and take the best two out of three.
“We could lose twenty percent of our new people and our accuracy would probably improve. The end result of all the punitive measures the Republicans want to take is that they are going to run off all of us old timers who still have a good work ethic and lots of job knowledge. What will be left is a house of cards waiting to collapse under its own weight. I have a good friend though who predicts our accuracy will dramatically increase in five years because there will be no one left who knows it is wrong.” John
“After 30-plus years I’ve grown very tired of working for this country (namely Congress) which mocks federal workers yet cannot approve a budget… And yet, they point to us as a waste of taxpayer money and the cause of the deficit… Across the board cuts do nothing but waste more money, even if it is easier for Congress to deal with. Reagan learned that early in his administration… It was a disaster, and yet today, here we go again… Interesting that all of this seems to be caused by the one organization (Congress) that points to the problem, takes no responsibility for the problem, and yet actually is the problem. Anon
“You would think that logic would dictate that you should not cut funds to the (primary) agency that collects money! What is wrong with our elected officials. All the IRS hiring has been brought to a screeching halt, with the exception of a ton of people they brought on ‘temporarily’ for the health care bill! Get real Congress, put your money where your pocketbook is…” Deep In The Heart of Texas
Lawmakers could lose pay during shutdown Other headlines from this morning’s Federal Newscast include: Tax delinquent fed firing bill reintroduced, DHS to fight low morale with leadership, FTC HQ may move to make space for Nat’l Gallery of Art.
Shutdown more likely as GOP stands firm The chances of a government shutdown increased Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he will not agree to a short-term government spending bill without budget cuts.