One more year of pay freeze, contracting cuts in Senate committee recs

Friday - 10/14/2011, 6:19pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

A Senate committee is recommending the super committee consider one more year of a federal pay freeze, increases to retirement contributions and a 15 percent cut to contracting at agencies.

On Thursday, Democratic committee leaders in the House advocated protecting federal pay and benefits from further cuts. But the bipartisan letter from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs sent today is calling for more sacrifices from federal employees.

"[W]e are asking many dedicated, hard-working, and patriotic public servants to pay a price for fiscal and economic conditions for which they are not responsible," according to the letter signed by chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and ranking member Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — dubbed the super committee — must come up with recommendations by Nov. 23 to make at least $1.5 trillion in cuts to the national debt over the next decade.

Federal employees' pay is currently frozen through 2012. The Senate letter advocates extending the pay freeze for one more year. The Senate committee also recommends extending the freeze to the legislative branch.

Lieberman and Collins call for an increase of feds' contributions to the Federal Employee Retirement System, from 0.8 percent to 2.0 percent. This would provide an estimated savings of $21 billion over ten years.

The Senate committee also wants the super committee to require agencies to reduce reliance on management support services contracts by 15 percent in fiscal year 2012. Members also support a cap on federal contractor pay, which both the President and House Democratic committee leaders have supported.

The National Treasury Employees Union called the recommendations from Lieberman and Collins "counterproductive to providing the services our nation depends on."

"Each of these is a bad idea. The results would be to degrade the quality and availability of services the American people expect and depend on, put serious roadblocks in the way of agency recruitment and retention efforts, and place an unfair burden on federal workers," said NTEU President Colleen Kelley in a statement.

The Senate letter also advocated the administration's proposal to improve program integrity, specifically at the Internal Revenue Service where revenue is lose in uncollected taxes. The administration is asking for an incremental 10-year "tax enforcement investment" of $350 million, the letter said.

Lieberman and Collins discouraged further spending cuts to the Homeland Security Department "beyond those necessary to meet the spending caps specified in the Budget Control Act," the letter said. Further cuts "would be unwise, threatening reversal of the progress that has been achieved in creating an integrated department and imperiling the department's ability to protect our citizens from terrorism and natural disaster."

RELATED STORIES

House Dems urge supercommittee to avoid more cuts to feds