Feds could see extended pay freeze in new proposals

Federal employees could soon see the current pay freeze extended by up to three years beyond its original planned termination, if the so-called "supercommittee"decides to implement some senators’ proposals on how to reduce the federal deficit.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on Oct. 14 presented the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction with a proposal they said was necessary to save the nation from “fiscal disaster.”


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In their plan, the senators suggested extending the current federal pay freeze for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 for an additional year, which they said could save $32 billion “without significant disruption to agency mission and activities." Federal employees, as well as members of Congress, “must sacrifice as part of an urgent need to curtail the cost of the federal government and reduce the national debt,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

The senators gained support from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), House Oversight Committee chairman, whose separate proposal on Oct. 14 laid out ideas for how the government could save $375 million over a 10-year period. Issa’s recommendations include extending the pay freeze through fiscal 2015 and reducing the federal workforce by one-tenth through attrition.

But some experts say the proposed extension would do more harm than good, especially when the federal workforce has already gone through sacrifices.  

“Federal employees by and large took the two-year pay freeze very well; they understood that they had to sacrifice along with everybody else,” said John Palguta, vice president at the Partnership for Public Service. “But three years would be a hardship for many, and five years just really exacerbates everything.”

One alternative to the extended pay freeze from a management perspective would be to give federal agencies budget targets and let them figure out how to best find meet them, as seen during the Clinton administration when some agencies decided to close some regional offices or merge with other offices to achieve cost savings, Palguta noted.

“That’s a good management way, but for someone to say, ‘we’re going to freeze pay and we’re going to tell you the other ways that you’re going to save money’ is less satisfying,” Palguta said. “It was fine for the president to suggest as the chief executive of the government that he wanted to save money through the pay freeze. Once you start going for an extended pay freeze, then you have to start weighing the costs of that – the ability for agencies to recruit and retain.” 

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Reader comments

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 Mark

Congress needs to lead by example, as someone said. Why do these millionaires need to be on full salary with health care for life after they serve one term? Why are they paid $175,000 a year when so many on them are already wealthy? I don't think the founding fathers intended for them to keep their jobs like the Pope, vote themselve outrageous salaries and benefits, and them stomp on the little people like us (Federal workers) who are just trying to make a living. I sure can't afford no raises for three more years. Don't mind more for my health care (I've worked where I've paid higher) but my wages need to keep pace with costs- or what happens to me and others in my position?

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

The attitude of those disagreeing with Steve is one of the primary reasons why the government has gotten overly large and wastes so much money. The government does not exist to supply entertainment (NPR and NEA) for the people. Not only are they totally unneccessary expenditures for this country, most people do not even care for the services provided from them. When you add up all the programs like these, it takes up a very large chunk of our taxes forcefully taken from us. If people want these type of things they can either buy them or donate their own money voluntarily without the outragous overhead charged by our beauracacy to make these programs whether they are desired or not by most of the people. In the end everyone suffers because the government 1) no longer has the money to give you a raise or pay for your retirement and 2) ends up taking more taxes from the people paying taxes and the economy suffers even more.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011

With more than a year to go on the current 2 year pay freeze, I find that I'm going broke. I cannot afford to purchase anything other than bare necessities like mortgage, food, clothes, taxes, utilities, house insurance, car insurance. I don't even have a car payment right now. Yet I cannot pay for anything other than basic things. Not only that, but FERS is a FAKE RETIREMENT SYSTEM where you have to subsist primarily off a savings account (the TSP) that you cannot even afford to pay into right now.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 Jay DC

Great comments, especially from Steve. But, everyone has missed the main issue. Fed employees do need to just shut up and take it, because at least we have a job, and things are going to get a lot worse. We are currently losing tons of money on the above mentioned United Nations, countries that hate us, etc. but did no one notice we are moving toward another Viet Nam? The Prez sending those advisors to Africa will lead to another war, that will cost us additional tons, and sadly more lives from our great military members. Our pay cuts thru 2015 will help fund the new African war, scheduled to kick off as the other two wars are winding down... so we can at least feel somewhat useful.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 RE College Park, MD

To Steve, As a long term federal employee and professional jazz vocalist, the NPR and certaintly the NEA are NOT "stupid" things. In fact, the NEA is very vital and some would argue (myself included) critical to our culture as a whole. I spent my formative adult years at the NIH supporting wonderful research and cutting edge technology and I respect what those scientists do. However I had no desire to major in science. My God-given gift was in the performing arts which should be respected, supported and valued by our society.

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