From the Washington Post:
Federal workforce question of the week: How to repair employees' image?
Thursday, November 4, 2010; 6:01 PM
The federal workforce became an issue in the midterm elections. Do you expect that debate to hurt future pay and benefits? What more can the Obama administration do to repair the image of federal workers?
What you said...
The comments of Ohio Congressman John Boehner, (Washington Post Federal Worker October 26, 2010) were particularly disturbing and incorrect. I am a Federal Annuitant and my annuity is not subsidized by taxpayers; during my federal career I contributed to the CS Retirement System, as do all federal employees, including members of Congress. I understand that the retirement system is solvent and will be available for all future federal retirees, including Congressman Boehner. Therefore, Congressman Boehner should be made aware of the facts when referring to the "fattened salaries and pensions of federal bureaucrats" being subsidized by taxpayers.
Civil Service Annuitant
The Obama administration should run a very simple ad on TV. List the various places where Federal employees are located in the U.S., (meaning the government worker is you or your neighbor). Then list the various agencies and what they do (meaning how government employees impact your life). I think I would like to see this information myself, even though I've worked for the government for more than 30 years.
As a retired Fed, I see the midterm elections simply as the latest chapter in Republicans bashing the important work by many dedicated staff in federal agencies. It's easy to criticize when you don't understand the importance of the work. I am hopeful that the agency leaders can educate the new Congress and resist "meat ax" attempts to downsize but that will be challenging. However, what puzzles me the most is why so many current and former federal employees continue to support the Republican Party, even though so many party members have a history of seeking to shrink the roles of government and undervaluing the work and people.
I am concerned for the federal employee, not only because I am one, but because I do believe they generally are a hardworking, dedicated group of people who want to serve the public.
It is my understanding that with the exception of the creation of TSA, the federal workforce has steadily decreased since the Ronald Reagan administration. What has increased both in personnel and dollars has been the number of contractors. In my opinion this is a sham put upon the public. Money is not saved by contracting. Many of those in contracting positions receive higher salaries, equal health benefits, and bonuses federal employees don't see. Add to that the profit margin that a contracting firm must see. I don't see at all how contracting is more cost effective.
Furthermore, in the IT area, many agencies have such a high and wide level of contracting that employees in IT positions don't even have administrative rights on the servers, network components, or applications. Nearly all expertise and knowledge of systems is lost from a government perspective when all management and control is turned over to contractors.
Michael R. Emery