Letter to the Editor
In reading Milt Zall's
"Pay parity" column [Federal Computer Week, April 9, 2001], I realized it
is apparent that he is truly a civil service employee.
I believe these are the people who formed a union; take months, even
years to be fired for incompetence; established a grievance system that
produces volumes of paperwork for nothing; and in most cases are already
paid more than their military counterparts in the same jobs (air traffic
controllers, for one).
Furthermore, they are not asked to put their lives on the line at a
minute's notice, nor are they required to work many, many hours of overtime
for no additional pay. They are not required to live in substandard housing
or sleep on the ground for endless days and nights, or do without sleep
at all for extended periods of time.
Most of them work 40 hours per week and that's it. I doubt very seriously
that there are very many civil service employees that are considered in
the "poverty zone" or below. Civil service employees do not "re-enlist"
for their jobs, and they are not dismissed if not promoted. They can stay
forever and ever.
Their job security is much greater than in the military, simply because
several civil service employees have jobs that no one really knows what
they are doing or when they are doing it. Most of the time they are not
affected by public opinion, as they remain fairly isolated from the news
I agree with Mr. Zall in one detail, but he did not take it far enough.
I think that there should be a study of both the military and the civil
service. This study should not only include "why" the enlistment rate is
so low and recruiting so low, it should also include "how many" civil service
employees are being used to the fullest extent possible (or even 75 percent
of their time being spent in productivity). Granted, a time study engineer
would have a field day with both the military and civil service. I believe
the military has been cut back so far that proficiency and readiness are
I don't believe there are many rank-and-file civil service employees
that have the responsibility for, let's say, an $85 million piece of equipment
on a day-to-day basis, and for making sure it is ready on a minute's notice
to perform. Also, the training of the person that makes that piece of equipment
perform is the most critical part of the whole procedure, and it's what
the American people are paying for.
Granted, civil service employees are important, but the military has
a very different type of job and a very different type of life. Being "in
harm's way" should be worth something, so I can't possibly see how military
and civil servants should be treated equally. A start would be to bring
military pay up to what the civil service is already getting.