Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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More of what you already knew ...

Well, The Washington Post has joined the fray, publishing the results of a poll that indicates that a significant portion of the public—more than half—think feds are overpaid.

The Post survey also turned up a fair share of respondents who registered negative perceptions on the quality of the federal workforce and feds’ work ethic.

Federal employee unions, for their part, zeroed in on the part of the survey that showed that three-quarters of survey respondents who had recent interactions with federal workers said it was a positive experience. Moreover, about two-thirds of respondents who said feds gave them very good service also said that feds were fairly paid or underpaid.

That’s a pretty clear indication that the public’s perception of federal workers can be significantly influenced by actually coming into contact with a real live fed.

Maybe that’s just one more bit of evidence that the old saying is true: You are your own best advocate.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Oct 19, 2010 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Fri, Oct 29, 2010

I am a reasonably highly-paid GS employee. If I had my salary and lived in Buffalo, I'd be considered among the rich there. But there are no Federal jobs like mine in Buffalo. Instead I live where a 2-bedroom condo costs at least $550,000 (and comes with a $500 condo fee and a $200 parking fee). The buyers in my neighborhood -- and there are still many -- are all much younger than I, and none of them are Federal employees. People I have worked with have left for private-sector salaries twice what their GS paycheck was. The Bush-years' A-76 push dehired a lot of feds; federal job security is not what it may once have been. Those who would now drag us all down were not interested in lifting us all up when they were making big jumps. If we couldn't be equal then, we don't need to bne equal now. We feds chose public service knowing we'd be underpaid. Others chose jobs where private gain was better. Apples and stovebolts.

Wed, Oct 27, 2010

One point I'd like to make is that feds don't live in a bubble. We pay taxes, we pay into social security, we pay the same retail prices as anyone else. Many of us are married to folks who work in the private sector and are subject to things like layoffs and pay cuts. We are well aware of how things operate in the private sector. What many of us object to is being political fodder. This just makes it more difficult to convince young people to enter the public sector and bring in their freshness and new ideas. Who wants to work for someone that will routinely denigrate you in public? As federal agencies, we must do a better job of letting the public know what we do, how we do it and why it is important to the country.

Fri, Oct 22, 2010

Many Government employees have little experience in the private sector and, as such, have a poor understanding of how well they have it in the Government. Many in the private sector do well by working considerably more hours than Feds. Many do well on an hourly rate but are often laid off or have their hours cut so they really do not make much. Most do not have even close to the amount of paid holidays, leave (both sick and regular) that Feds get. Most do not get close to the amount of medical and retirement benefits that Feds get. Besides job security, most Feds also get automatic pay raises, both cost of living and step increases that, when combined, make a greater income growth than most in the private sector see. How often do you see Feds taking pay cuts when business goes down? To get promotions in the private sector, these people often have to quit their company and go to another firm starting over on much of their retirement, leave, and often medical benefits. They do not have hundreds of other offices within their firm to move to for their promotions. These are facts that many of these defenders of public employees ignore. But most of these critics of Feds know this quite well and that is why they can truthfully say the Federal employees have it very good relative to the private sector.

Thu, Oct 21, 2010 Editor

Just a quick note -- one commenter noted that his/her comment was relevant, not abusive, but still not posted. In that case, it may have been one which contained web links. Since all of our commenters are anonymous, we feel it's a better security practice not to include comments that contain such links.

Thu, Oct 21, 2010 Mike Rummel San Diego

Those who bash us about pay do not make reference to the demographics of Federal employment. It's my understanding the Federal Government as a whole has a much higher percentage of professional employees such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, and analysts (to name a few) than the civilian workforce has. Also, every study I've ever read concludes Federal Employees are always paid less than their counterparts in civilian life.

I spent 28 months in Vietnam as an enlisted Marine working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. No one back in "The World" ever criticized me for working all that overtime without any additional pay.

When I was a naval officer on RIMPAC and WESTPAC working the same hours 7 days a week no one on the outside complained about me working too many hours for no additional pay. When on shore duty we worked the hours needed to get the job done -- far more than 40 hours per week. The news media never reported about the public complaining about all the free hours that were given to them by hardworking members of the military.

In my present position with Homeland Security there is not one hour on a 24-hour clock that has not found me at my desk working when that is what it took to get the job done, yet I receive NO extra compensation NOR any compensatory time off for doing what needs(ed) to be done. Why are stories like this not presented by the media to a mis-informed public?

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