Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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What’s in a title?

We wonder, because—amid charges that federal employees are overpaid—the House Oversight and Government Reform federal workforce subcommittee on March 9 will convene a hearing that asks: “Are Federal Workers Underpaid?”

Tricky, huh?

And maybe a little tongue-in-cheek. The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., it has been reported, supports pay for performance. So we suspect we already know where he stands in the underpaid/overpaid debate.

What’s not clear is how much new will come out of the hearing, which will feature familiar testimony from familiar witnesses—including Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk and American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs.

In a nutshell, Kelley will argue that feds are underpaid, and Sherk and Biggs will say that feds in fact are overpaid. Berry will side with feds, but note that the federal pay system nonetheless could use some improvements. And Stier will advocate for whatever method and level of pay that results in the best available workforce.

More than anything else, the hearing is probably intended to lay out the two sides of the argument as clearly as possible in preparation for what will become a much longer battle in the new Congress over how federal employees are compensated.

So, to put a little more wear on a well-worn cliché: Hold onto your hats

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 08, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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