Are federal workers grossly overpaid or underpaid?

Short answer is: Yes.

You’d think an official, book-length report on how screwed up federal salaries are would be a bestseller both in major federal enclaves — Washington, D.C., Ogden, Utah, Oklahoma City, Huntsville, Ala. or Raleigh-Durham. Feds would eat it up because it would prove that they are — as unions and some think tanks say — paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. Anti-government types, anxious to see the D.C. swamp dismantled, and moved (literally) to Kansas City, would find solace in chapters by those who see the current pay-fixing system is fouled-up-beyond-all-recognition.

But in order for a book or report to get traction, it first must be made public so will people get to see and read it. Which is why a report by three of the six member Federal Salary Council, with an issue date of May 2 and first reported by Federal News Network’s Nicole Ogrysko, has yet to register on anybody’s chart.

The 35-page report, with a lengthy 5-page executive summary isn’t Fifty Shades Of Gray or Gone With the Wind, but it’s very important to the federal salary-setting system which has been a work in progress for more than 100 years. And it shows the frustration of the three non-union council members who do yeoman work year after year on an issue (that costs a lot of money), only to be ignored by presidents, Congress and the general public.

The Carter administration, which predated the council, was the first to take a serious look at federal pay, concluding that federal workers shouldn’t get an automatic within-grade-raise (WIG) every one, two or three years based on time-in-grade and the fact that they hadn’t done something horrible during their time-in-grade. One official dubbed them “being there” raises because he, and others, said the fact that since about 99% of those eligible got the raises on time, it meant that in many cases all they had to do was show up and keep showing up for work.

Critics argued that agencies generally do a good job of policing who gets a WIG raise based on satisfactory service. Others said comparing federal pay to private sector wages didn’t take into account the value and cost of benefits, Civil Service Retirement System, vacations and holidays, or sick leave that could be applied toward retirement in measuring so-called “total compensation.”

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That argument continues today with experts saying feds are overpaid as much as 30% more than private sector workers doing the same jobs, while others using different yardsticks say feds are overpaid and over compensated by any measure.

The George H.W. Bush administration along with a Democratic-controlled Congress thought they had solved the issue of equal federal-private sector pay when the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990 became law. The bipartisan law was supposed to begin with the next administration, and called for a serious of partial pay raises over the decade that would generally bring civil service salaries up to par with similar jobs on a city-by-city basis.

But under locality pay, workers were supposed to get a general pay raise with additional amounts applied to higher-wage locality areas. Places like Washington-Baltimore, San Francisco, Houston, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles would generally get higher annual raises under the FEPCA formula.

But in the first year FEPCA was due to kick in, then President Bill Clinton proposed a zero pay raise even though the new formula called for a raise. Clinton, who was the former governor of Arkansas, was said to be shocked at federal pay scales and how much the average federal civil servant in D.C. made.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) working with Virginia Republicans Frank Wolf and Tom Davis, made an end run around the administration and got feds their first FEPCA raise. A top aide to Hoyer, John Berry (who later became OPM director) directed the bipartisan stealth pay operation through the life of the Clinton administration. President George W. Bush followed the Clinton precedent by recommending raises each year that were less then those called for by the FEPCA guidelines.

Former President Barack Obama too followed the Clinton-Bush model, except there were three years during his two terms when there was a zero pay raise.

Unions members — National Treasury Employees Union, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Federation of Federal Employees — made an excellent case for higher pay raises in their report.

The problem isn’t with the Federal Pay Council or the FEPCA law. The problem is that too many politicians believe just passing laws solve problems.

What they are missing is the follow through.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Steff Thomas

Despite the fact that he didn’t learn to read until he was 10 years old, Wilson is America’s most educated president. He is the only president to have earned a Ph.D., which he earned from John Hopkins University in political science and history.

Source: Tech Times

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