Lots of Somebodies Want Your Job

Wednesday - 5/13/2009, 4:00am EDT

Editor's Note: Click here to listen to Mike's interview with OPM Director John Berry on Your Turn.

It's amazing what hard times will do to - and for - federal operations looking for the best and brightest.

Folks who are paid to worry about the future of the federal workforce (and worrying is a cottage industry here in Washington) have long feared a tidal wave of retirements that, sooner rather than later, will leave many offices staffed with inexperienced, short-attention span dullards without mentors to control their urges to Twitter.

The thinking was that while many top-notch college grads were interested in public service, it was directed at NGOs or charities, rather than the federal government. After 9/11 there was a surge in applications from people who wanted to serve in government. That slacked off over the years but now a new event - the recession - has again piqued people's interest in getting into government.

Currently, some agencies report that, for certain jobs, there are hundreds of applicants, sometimes even thousands of applicants for federal employment.

Appearing on the Federal Drive program yesterday morning, John Palguta of the Partnership for Public Service said interest in federal employment among college students has doubled from one-year ago. The Partnership did survey of 195 colleges and found moderate to major interest in government on the part of graduating seniors. Palguta said that in one bureau there were a number of job openings in one series and the agency got over 30,000 applicants.

So if you know somebody looking for a federal job, or you are looking to change agencies, be advised that you are facing a lot of competition, and not all agencies treat all employees the same way. Monday's column dealt with the different perqs offered by different federal operations. That prompted a number of reader/listeners to add to the list.

Like so:

  • "I work for the Social Security Administration and we get free eyeglasses through the vision program." David S. Must be from processing all those claims!

  • "Can't forget about my favorite-part time opportunities. I don't know how it works in other agencies, but thanks to NTEU, there are opportunities to go part time for family obligations... I did this when my own kids were school age. I actually did a 30 hour week-6 hours daily to facilitate school drop off and pick up. A friend of mine did the 20 hour work week. I was the envy of a lot of my working mom friends. I still had my "professional" job and could do the mom thing. I've never regretted it." Diane H.

  • "Certain paid holidays - Private sector may or may not get Columbus Day and others… ("Oh, you can take leave if you want to spend time w/your family…"), TSP matching, not having to pay for our *union* reps (at least at the moment), sick leave, authorized absence (paid time) for jury duty and snow days, etc., 5 weeks (26 days) of leave first year as employee - 13 AL and 13 SL. Private sector, maybe two weeks... (and) training!" KMG

  • "This is dated information, but I do recall that when I worked at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, our locally hired (i.e., South African) staff received a generous financial subsidy to enable them to send their kids to private schools (this included tuition, uniforms, books and supplies, and transportation, as I recall). The Embassy also paid the lion's share of the interest on their home mortgages - and with mortgage interest rates at the time being in double digits, this amounted to a very hefty chunk of their total payment.

    "Of course, they also received their regular salaries, all courtesy of the American taxpayer. Now, this was the early 1990's and I have no further information on whatever the current compensation plan may be. But I do remember being pretty impressed at the time with Uncle Sam's generosity." T.J. Morgan

Listen Up!

Today at 10 am., on our Your Turn with Mike Causey show we'll be talking with OPM's new director John Berry. We have a batch of questions from you that we will ask him. Listen of you can (www.federalnewsradio.com or at WFED 1500 AM in the DC area). The show will be archived so if you miss it, or want to hear it again, you can do so at your leisure. But listen today if possible. If you tell your boss who's on the show, he/she may listen too!

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Australia's News Limited reports researchers there are working on way to control the enzyme "which causes damage during a heart attack and, less critically, is also responsible for turning snot green." I'm putting this one on my personal list of "Good reasons not to have another heart attack". sk

To reach Mike: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

Tags: P&B, perqs, benefits