Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Be honest—how much are you motivated by pay?

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry made an interesting statement today during a speech at the Interagency Resources Management Conference.

Speaking about performance and pay, Berry noted: “There’s a lot of literature out there that says what drives performance really isn’t pay.”

Note that Berry wasn’t trying to downplay the overall importance of pay to employees. He made the statement as part of a larger point that he was making—that is, that the government should study and improve its performance management system as part of any redesign of the federal pay system.

One thing that we’ve observed on this blog is that many feds in their comments express a deep commitment to public service, and that they take deep offense at negative characterizations of federal employees.

At the same time, dedicated or not, plenty of commenters gripe about pay.

But the question we’re asking today is: What makes you perform well? Is it pay that makes you perform the best you can? Or is it competent management? How about a comfortable work environment? Or maybe being part of a group of high-quality workers?

Sure, all of these things can play a role in ramping up performance—but which one stands above all the others?

A lot of the folks who make the big decisions are positive it is pay.

Is it?


Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:13 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Wed, Apr 13, 2011

Respect. being treated fair and not have favortism on the job. To get appreciated for the work you do and make it an enjoyable place to work. But if there is confict in the office iyt makes every on miserable and they can't perform there job as they would be all working together and not against each other.

Fri, Apr 1, 2011

If you want to find out if people's performance is driven by pay, do away with the Bonus Pool for DCIPS. Then listen for the crying!

Thu, Mar 31, 2011

being part of a group of high-quality workers, because I'm quite competitive.

Wed, Mar 30, 2011 DM

Respect - I echo the previous response. I am self-motivated to do my best. If my work is not respected, my morale may suffer. Although I am confident I could easily earn more in the private sector, I have chosen to accept lower pay in exchange for the benefits and security associated with a government career. With the current attacks on federal employee pay and benefits, including pay freezes, threats to the continuance of FERS and Social Security, etc., I do not know if I would choose a governement career today if I was just entering the workforce.

Wed, Mar 30, 2011

Respect. The opportunity to do worthwhile work. Fair treatment to everyone. Appreciation for a job well done. Knowing that I don't have to choose between working until I die at my desk, or an old age of grinding poverty. Respect.

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