Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

That nasty old pay issue

If nothing else, the Merit Systems Protection Board has exquisite timing.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that MSPB each month has been explaining one of the nine merit principles that serve as the standards governing the management of the federal workforce.

The Merit System Principle for March, which focuses on equal pay, likely will set a few readers’ teeth on edge, especially as Congress wrangles over cutting just about everything under the sun.

It goes like this: “Equal pay should be provided for work of equal value, with appropriate consideration of both national and local rates paid by employers in the private sector, and appropriate incentives and recognition should be provided for excellence in performance.”

The reasoning behind this principle is that decent salaries—and rewards for performance—will attract and retain the best workforce. Painfully simple, right?

But it may seem like an unattainable principle in a job market in which the prevailing sentiments range from “do more with less” to “just count yourself lucky to have a job.”

Nonetheless, this third Merit System Principle—like the others—is described in detail by MSPB—and more importantly, is codified in the U.S. Code at 5 USC § 2301. It carries the force of law.

You may have doubts about how well the principle of equal pay is followed, but you might want to take a look at it anyway.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Thu, Apr 7, 2011

As a dedicated federal civil servant I keep wondering why the politicians single out us out for whatever is the quick and easy way to save money. They did this in private industry – downsize and outsource only to realize initially it may have been cheaper but it quickly became very very expensive which is why many large companies are trying to recapture their company intellect back in house to keep costs down. If it was easy to save money and cut costs then anyone could do it so how about the House and Senate focus on what the real expenditures are instead of necessary ones. My pay raises have been frozen for two years and now they already speaking of 5 years. What does this mean to us lowly civil servants? It means to me each year, with rising health insurance costs (3 – 6 percent a year), rising fuel prices (15 – 20 % a year), higher food costs (predicting 5-7%) due to higher fuel costs, higher heating costs, rising property taxes (due to local governments unable to manage their budgets), higher consumer product costs and possibly higher taxes as well, I can’t even come close to keeping up with cost of living costs.
What this means is I have that much less to spend in the economy, I may lose my house, I will not be taking a vacation of the foreseeable future and I will have to work longer for the Federal Government before I can retire (kind of counterproductive for the reasons for the freezes in the first place – to downsize). Had they not frozen raises (even small ones) I had planned to retire in 3 years but now – maybe ten years or maybe even never.

Mon, Mar 28, 2011

I am retired military; I contracted to the military for 7 years, and was then picked up for Civil Service. Throughout all this time the constant has been those employees that feel everything is owed to them rather than feeling they are servants of the country. Everyone forgets what we are, Civil Service, some will argue that does not mean servitude, and I agree, but the point is that there are too many employees out there who do NOT do their job and expect to be paid. Those same people scream bloody murder when a top performer gets a bonus, why? I watched a group of contractors get picked up for civil service and do you know what the first thing I encountered was? "It's not my job" Really?! Did they all forget that they raised their right hand willingly? Sadly, it is human nature for those who do not perform to drag everyone else down with them, and everyone wonders where the images of lazy government employees come from...

Mon, Mar 21, 2011

As a supervisor my issues are many - rating performance on people with disabilities. While they can perform, if you rate them low complaints abound and the Disability Rep gets involved. Also, many retired active duty are hired into GS positions and they are used to military way of doing things, they are given poisitions by commanders that don't understand the rules by which things are done. Position descriptions are also lacking in explaining job duties, most limit to a career field and duties outside that career field are "forbiden". While I am not in the government to make money, a know that a contracted PM earns $344K on the contract (don't know what the person earns) - I do not make a third of that - I can work 14 hours a day to try to stay with workload and then bosses keep giving you more (do more with less) It is very difficult to stay motivated. Supervisors have jobs too not just babysitting employees

Thu, Mar 17, 2011

Pay for performance...hmmmm. Nepotism, Favoritism, Political"ism", and so on. There is graft within the current pay system based on those "isms" AND with all the checks and balances in place. What makes them think that another 'overhaul' of the pay system will work without 'checks and balances'?! How about Supevisory personnel having "one appraisal system", i.e. rated with 1 (low end performance) to 9 (high achiever) and non-supervisors having "pass or fail" appraisals like it is in some agencies. There isn't any way to FAIRLY compete inside or outside the agency if you are a "pass or fail" employee.

Thu, Mar 17, 2011

Let Congress apply Pay for Performance (like not being able to pass a budget on time or ignoring the right thing to play power politics) to themselves. Before they start bashing the civilian workforce more, I suggest they first look at their own exclusive pay, retirement, and health plans for cuts.

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