Super committee lacks federal worker issue experience

It may sound hopeful to have a super committee working on the budget crisis, but does it bode well for federal employees?

The workforce has been the target of budget-cutting efforts all year, some implemented and others merely proposed. Now the super committee, the product of the recent compromise on the debt ceiling debate, has orders to trim $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade -- and is largely made up of lawmakers with little experience in issues that affect the workforce, according the Washington Post blog Federal Eye. In fact, none of the members have sponsored a bill addressing federal employees during this congressional session, the article said.

The federal employee experience of the 12-member congressional super committee, charged with identifying trillions to trim from the federal deficit, ranges from “fairly thin to virtually nonexistent,” writes Eric Yoder on the blog.

The only beacon of light appears to be the appointment of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), whose suburban district is laden with federal employees and is accustomed to fighting on their behalf.

And while another committee member, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), does sit on two committees that deal with employee issues, he is not particularly active on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, according to Federal Eye.

Since under the super committee structure everything is on the table, federal pay, benefits and jobs are at risk during the second phase of the debt ceiling negotiations and most agree that workers will have to sacrifice more than the two-year pay freeze, writes Kellie Lunney on Government Executive. Undoubtedly, federal contractors will be affected as well.

Now the super committee has until November to produce a plan. If it doesn't meet that deadline and produce a plan that gets Congressional approval, automatic spending cuts will kick in in January 2013. 

Confidence in the committee is lacking, according to a recent FedSmith survey on the debt ceiling debate.

According to the survey, 91.9 percent of federal employees believe that the debt ceiling debate will reduce their benefits and income. Another 83.3 percent of those surveyed did not have confidence that the government will fully fund the federal retirement plans now and in the future.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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Reader comments

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 TexFed

It would be completely illogical to trim the FTE workforce without first trimming the work that they accomplish. If you don't, the agencies will be forced to burn out the remaining workforce with overtime and hire contractors (at a premium) in order to accomplish their agency mission. IMHO, congress is totally jumping the gun by going for FTE staffing before looking at entitlements. And don't forget - FTE's are part of the taxpayers that have to fund the 50% of Americans who pay ZERO taxes and get 99% of the entitlements. And quite frankly, that 36 months (i.e., 3 years) of unemployment pay is looking really nice from MY working/taxpaying/UNENTITLED position. And don't give me that tripe about union protection. I work for a gov't FRANCHISE fund in an "at will" state as a "confidential employee" and am not eligable to join the union (not that I'd want to). I have no job protection other than doing a good job.

Wed, Aug 17, 2011

The committee is like a jury . . . the less they know about the subject, the more "impartial" they can be. The "facts" and "truth" will win out. Right?

Wed, Aug 17, 2011 Tired Fed Employee

From where I sit, topped out at grade, no cost of living which was my only shot at an increase. Working the entire summer overtime, which is capped so slam again you make like 30 cents more an hour! In the office until 3 am and told no shift differential because it wasn't scheduled. No blackberries, even though you are on call 24/7, plus 6 work days a week. Laptop that is ancient, air card that is just as bad. Worse, how is that?

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

In this economic climate, we need to get rid of the minimum wage, worker&public safety laws and evnironmental proctention laws so that our glorious businesses can make all the profit possible.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

In an economic climate such as this we cannot continue to fund the federal workforce like there is no consequence. Private companies have had to lay off employees who were not deemed essential to keep their doors open and cosolidate positions. Why do people feel like the federal workforce should be exempt from the same thing? If the money isn't there to pay them then concessions have to be made in order to not watch our debt keep climbing.

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