Letters to the editor

Setting the Record Straight

Carl Peckinpaugh's column in the Jan. 22 issue of Federal Computer Week, "Keep outsourcing apolitical," discussed a requirement in the fiscal 2001 Defense Appropriations Act for the comptroller general to convene a panel of experts to study the transfer of commercial activities from government employees to federal contractors.

In my opinion, the piece contained inaccurate information and unwarranted criticism of the initial efforts of the General Accounting Office to implement the statutory mandate.

Mr. Peckinpaugh complained that GAO "inexplicably...limited to December the period for recommending individuals to serve on the panel" and cut off input two weeks before the new administration took office. He said that this "does not represent the cooperative approach Congress intended."

Let me set the record straight.

GAO is fully committed to carrying out the activities of the panel in a manner that is as open as possible. In that spirit, I decided to seek early public input on the composition of the panel through an announcement in the Federal Register.

This was not required by law and represented an additional step that historically has not been taken by GAO. Although the notice specified a 30-day comment period ending on Jan. 2, 2001, we remained open to receiving, and in fact received and considered, responses after that date.

Even though the panel's report to Congress is not due until May 2002, it is important that the work of the panel begins soon so that it has sufficient time to consider the many complex issues involved. We anticipate that there will be ample opportunity for the submission of comments on the specific issues the panel will address.

Neither the timing of the Federal Register announcement nor the duration of the comment period were intended to limit input from anyone, including the new administration. In this regard, the statute specifically provides for the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense to be represented on the panel. Selection of specific individuals from these or other agencies will be made by officials of the Bush administration.

Our approach to implementing the mandate to convene the Commercial Activities Panel will be pro--fession-al, objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, non- ideological, fair and balanced.

I look forward to convening this panel and arriving at recommendations that will address legitimate concerns associated with the outsourcing issue in general and the A-76 process in particular.

David Walker Comptroller General of the United States

Disappointed in Pay Raise

The Office of Personnel Management definitely missed the boat on what it finally gave out [in pay raises for information technology workers]. I am a GS-0334-11 with 19 years in civil service. I have been waiting to see what the final result of this pay raise is, and I am very disappointed.

First, it took OPM three years to get this raise done. Secondly, I have seen new college graduates start jobs with more pay than I currently make.

I would go so far as to say that I am insulted by OPM's final solution. I am not the only one who feels that way. They gave 33 percent raises to the entry-level workers and 7 percent to those they supposedly want to retain. OPM should have given the IT workers a straight 33 percent pay raise.

I was considering staying in for another 10 years, but now I think it is time to go. Here are several reasons why.

Salary: I have been offered jobs "starting" at $20,000 more than what the U.S. government wants to pay me. Overtime: It is capped at the GS-10 level. I have been earning roughly 10 to 40 hours each month because of manning problems. Why should I work OT for only $2 more an hour? Hiring: (a) It takes too long for a government agency to decide. I put in for a GS-12 in July, and I have been told that it will take a few more months before they make a decision. I have been offered a civilian job here in Japan, and they are ready to decide now. (b) There's no central site to research jobs. So far I have found 15 Web sites that carry government job listings and have separate application procedures. This is a big waste of time and resources. I am coming to the point where I have to decide if I want to stay or leave civil service. Money is a big factor, and the U.S. government seems to want to not pay IT people what they are worth. I am 40 and have many good years ahead of me.

Harold Jensen Jr. Computer Specialist Support Center Kadena Air Base, Japan


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