Federal Employees News Digest

Pressure resumes for contractor caps

With political campaigns out of the way and the 112th Congress entering its final weeks, public interest, government accountability and federal employee groups resumed efforts to persuade lawmakers to lower the cap on contractor salaries.

In a Nov. 13 letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittees, leaders of labor and good government groups urged legislators to lower the cap on the maximum allowable compensation paid by government funds to all non-Defense Department contract employees—from $763,029 to $400,000—as outlined in S. 3301, the Senate’s version of the fiscal 2013 Financial Services Appropriations Bill.

“With budget cuts and sequestration looming, it is fiscally irresponsible to allow private contractors to charge escalating and exorbitant rates to the government,” the letter stated. “Over the past dozen years, the increase in allowable government compensation to contractors has outpaced inflation by 53 percent.”

According to the letter, “estimates obtained from senior DOD personnel indicate that capping allowable reimbursement of compensation at $200,000 per contractor employee would result in savings of at least $5 billion a year.” The letter noted that the secretary of defense earns a salary of $200,000.

The letter’s verbiage was identical to that contained in a similar letter the coalition sent in October to leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, urging them to include the compensation cap in the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

“While private-sector companies can pay their employees whatever they believe those employees are worth, there is simply no supportable rationale to have taxpayers pay this exorbitant sum,” one of the letter’s signers, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, said in a November 13 statement issued in tandem with the latest letter.

Signers of the most recent letter included top officials from labor organizations including NTEU, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Other organizations signing the letter included the Economic Policy Institute, In the Public Interest, National Employment Law Project, OMB Watch, Project on Government Oversight, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The letter went to Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chair and ranking member of the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee; and Reps. JoAnn Emerson (R-Mo.) and Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), chair and ranking member of the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

See the letter at: www.nteu.org/Documents/JointLetter.pd

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