Letter to the Editor
I read your article "IT job front remains critical" [Federal Computer Week, April 9, 2001],
and I would like to point out another reason why the government cannot keep
skilled information technology workers.
I will be leaving soon if my situation isn't resolved. I am a hard-working,
26-year-old, skilled IT government GS employee. (What the government wants
right?) I made the mistake of transferring from a contracting career with
an $80,000 to $100,000 salary to a government career with a $40,000 to $50,000
salary because of "great benefits and job stability."
I am working in Germany at the 98th Area Support Group Provost Marshal
Office as the senior systems administrator for the ASG. Prior to accepting
the GS position, I was a civilian contractor in Darmstadt, Germany and then
a contractor in Kosovo for six months. I lived in a hotel for four months
in Germany on temporary duty status, returned to the United States and then
worked in Kosovo and lived in a shack, also on temporary duty status from
the United States (with my company paying more than $15,000 extra per year
for cost-of-living expenses).
Because I was in Kosovo when accepted for the GS position, I was classified
as a local hire in Wuerzburg, Germany. I receive no housing allowance, no
support from the housing office and cannot get furniture from housing all
because I was living and working in Kosovo. After my Kosovo contract ended,
I was required to return to the United States to outprocess from my company.
I then had to pay for my ticket to go back to Germany for my new government
job and pay $2,000 to ship my car. I still have not shipped my household
goods from the United States because I cannot afford to right now. Therefore
I have to live in a more expensive, fully furnished apartment because I
cannot afford to buy more furniture, especially when I am paying for the
storage of my household items in the United States. I am stuck.
I am getting married soon and because of the lack of support for housing,
I barely have enough money to pay the bills and buy food for both of us.
I am ashamed that I trusted the U.S. government to take care of its own
employees. I was told that the housing allowance situation was in my favor
when I accepted the job. I expected to get the allowance and get reimbursed
for everything I had to pay, but later found I was probably not going to
get it all because I worked in Kosovo and was considered a local hire.
Yeah, right. I have no property in Germany, no family, no residence (unless
you consider a hotel a residence), nor had plans to do establish one. I
have no attachments whatsoever to Europe.
My point is this: How can the government complain about retaining and
hiring IT people when my (housing allowance) situation is very common. This
is crazy! I will make sure that none of my friends or colleagues ever make
the same mistake as me.
All I want is for the government to pay my living quarters allowance
(LQA) as any company with employees overseas would, and I would make a long
and successful career as a GS IT worker, for sure. The corporate sector
would never do to its employees what I just went through. In fact I put
my resume out three days ago [letter written on April 10] and got 12 job
offers all paying relocation expenses.
I was tricked into accepting this job and now have paid the consequences.
I have an appeal in for the LQA and should know soon. If I get denied,
the government has just lost another skilled IT employee. How can I be a
happy GS employee when I have to worry if I can afford rent and food? What
gets me the most is everyone I talk to thinks I should get housing allowance everyone except the final decision-makers.
98th Area Support Group Provost Marshal Office