Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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What’s in a title?

We wonder, because—amid charges that federal employees are overpaid—the House Oversight and Government Reform federal workforce subcommittee on March 9 will convene a hearing that asks: “Are Federal Workers Underpaid?”

Tricky, huh?

And maybe a little tongue-in-cheek. The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., it has been reported, supports pay for performance. So we suspect we already know where he stands in the underpaid/overpaid debate.

What’s not clear is how much new will come out of the hearing, which will feature familiar testimony from familiar witnesses—including Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk and American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs.

In a nutshell, Kelley will argue that feds are underpaid, and Sherk and Biggs will say that feds in fact are overpaid. Berry will side with feds, but note that the federal pay system nonetheless could use some improvements. And Stier will advocate for whatever method and level of pay that results in the best available workforce.

More than anything else, the hearing is probably intended to lay out the two sides of the argument as clearly as possible in preparation for what will become a much longer battle in the new Congress over how federal employees are compensated.

So, to put a little more wear on a well-worn cliché: Hold onto your hats

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 08, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 ezekiel east coast

I would tesitify that most GS14-810 are overpaid in my agency--based on OPM's definition of the job's PD. I expect that Jesus Christ was the last human being on earth who wasn't overpaid, and look what the Son of God got for his severance. I deduced quite some time ago that we are merely latent scapegoats in our agency...

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 Jack

The way I see it, our biggest problem is freedom of speech. Not that it's a bad thing. It's just abused so badly by inaccurate and fallacious reporting, which often drives voters to elect representatives to act on half-truths and outright lies.

For example, regardless of your politics, the two year pay freeze was largely media-driven. The public bought into some half-baked survey reported as factual and here we are: the president fed us to the sharks based on inadequate and outright false reporting. Fortunately, (and soundly ignored), there are those who are trying to make corrections. But look at the cost of media-driven politics!

Does anyone actually think the AP folks are going to report anything objectively? USA Today certainly will not. The Times will analyze the hell out of everything and put a liberal spin on it so we still look like fools.

Feds will continue to be the boogie man and a pet whipping boy for the news outlets, jealous constituents and opportunistic politicians regardless of what we do or how we do it. The news media will NOT objectively cover anything that supports us because they almost universally want people angry about 'injustice'. And, if it's one thing our illustrious news media will continually point out, it's injustice.....real or imagined...and usually (not always) to the benefit of liberal politics.

I'm sorry for the rant.

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 Tired Fed

I think the 'pay for performance' would likely go the same way the cash awards went. If you brown nose enough, you'll get the performance pay. If you mind your own business and just do your job, you'll be lucky to be recognized.

Wed, Mar 9, 2011

Must be close to elections, pander to the feds that vote? What's next getting some roads re-paved in their districts? You want to make positive changes then start by pssing a law which makes it illegal for special interests to bribe the Congress and Senate with PAC money and revolving doors for lobbyists to their offices. The rest is all verbal **** from the podium.

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 Doug Central PA

I am reading the comments above and they are the same as I have seen before. To summarize: the lower graded positions are probably over paid and the higher graded positions are under paid. Yes, I truly believe this is the case. To repair the fact that we cannot hire good scientists and engineers we need to establish an over grade type of scale for these highly skilled technicians. Other wise we are just going to have to continue to bring in those high paid consultants and contractors at taxpayers expense costing the government more money in the long run.

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