Calls grow for federal pay cuts

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in American history during the first 3 months of this year. Now, some are aski...

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

As America continues to recover from the economic troubles of 2009, some people are asking whether feds should have to take a pay cut, as so many private sector employees have done.

John Palguta is the Vice President for Policy at the Partnership for Public Service, admitted to Federal News Radio he’s a bit puzzled by the rationale of those arguing for a pay cut.

“It’s akin to saying we’ve got people suffering out there,” said Palguta, “so the solution is to have more people suffer and somehow that’s going to make things better.”

As someone who spent a career in HR, Palguta said the issue of pay is all about making sure “you’re paying what you need to do to get the workforce that you need.”

If you look at comparable job to comparable job, there’s not a body of convincing evidence out there that says that federal employees are in any case being overpaid. In fact federal law requires that pay be set at a level roughly comparable to equivalent jobs in the private sector. So to me these across the board, sledgehammer type solutions, if you will just don’t make a lot of sense.

The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990, or FEPCA, said Palguta, is one of the reasons federal employees don’t need to worry too much about a cut in pay anytime soon.

“You’ve got to change the law,” said Palguta, “if you want to start more systematically under-paying feds, which I don’t think would be a good idea.”

So if there’s no pay cut on the horizon, the Federal Drive asked Palguta about the possibility of a pay freeze instead. He agreed that times are tight, but a freeze is as broad a stroke as a cut. The solution, he said, should be “a scalpel and not a sledgehammer. I think you’ve got to go out and take a look at what is the situation job by job, given consideration of the geographic area.”

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