Letter to the editor

Obviously, Milt Zall, in his zeal to treat military and civil service personnel identically, does not understand personnel management ["Equal raises for all," Federal Computer Week, May 21, 2001].

Pay and benefits are proportional to the quality and size of the workforce. If pay and benefits are not considered adequate, too few employees will be accessed/maintained. Unless a smaller, less-qualified employee pool is acceptable, pay and benefits must be increased. A critical measure of this for both military and civil service is the meeting of accession/retention goals.

From news reports, it is obvious that the military is not able to meet the accession/retention goals for significant sections of the organization, especially junior officers, noncommissioned officers and recruits. Increasing pay and benefits is one way to improve this situation. Because the problem areas form a large part of the military, and increasing pay and benefits in only those areas will create pay compression and other problems, the simplest way to increase pay and benefits is an across-the-board increase. This increase can be added to an inflation factor, making it larger than the equivalent civil service increase.

I am unaware of any general accession/retention problem in the civil service. Those areas that do have problems (air traffic control, information technology), are small in number, and can be handled with special/incentive pay. With no general staffing problems, there is no need for a general pay and benefit increase, resulting in a smaller civil service pay increase (inflation only).

I wish to avoid any comment concerning Mr. Zall's comparison of civil service and military occupations. A visit to any VA hospital will more than serve to answer him.

Ray Applebaum
Project leader
EER Systems Inc.

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