Big Change In Starting Pay

Thursday - 5/21/2009, 4:00am EDT

Starting a federal career could soon become an even more attractive prospect for college graduates facing a very tough, and shrinking private sector job market.

The government is considering a plan that, if adopted, would boost starting pay by almost $8,000 a year for people with a degree from a 4-year college. Currently most new college graduates come into the government at the Grade 5 level. In the Washington metro area, GS 5 starts at $33,269 per year.

But under the proposal being studied by federal HR directors, most college graduates entering government would come in at the GS 7 level which, in D.C., starts at $41,210.

Currently the GS 7 starting level is usually reserved for people whose grade point average and academic record qualify them as hires under the outstanding scholar program.

Bringing the college grads in at the higher grade would be the equivalent of a fast-track program for many. Imagine being on a one mile foot race and being allowed to take off 200 yards from the original starting line.

The proposal from the Office of Personnel Management is out for a 30-day comment period. If it gets the green light from agencies, the new system could be implemented by regulation. That means it would not require Congress to get into the act.

President Obama has said he wants "to make government cool again." His reference point is the Kennedy administration which drew thousands of the so-called best and brightest into federal service. Speaking on our "Your Turn with Mike Causey" radio show last week, OPM Director John M. Berry said building a better civil service is one of the legacy goals of this administration.

In the past, when both Democratic or Republican administrations wanted to reinvent, change, minimize or downsize the federal government they first had to convince the media and the public that Uncle Sam tolerated too many losers in the ranks. But Berry, who served in the Executive branch after years as a congressional staffer said he believes the government is full of the best and brightest. He said it just wants to bring in even more of them, especially because so many feds are at or near retirement age. To listen his interview, click here.

To read the OPM memo about the proposal, click here

And to go directly to the Draft Qualification Standards page from OPM, click here.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

From delphion.com, in case you've been inspired by the TV show "Pitchmen" and are trying to come up with something new and unusual, there's already a patent for a bird diaper. According to the abstract, the diaper is made from spandex and "can incorporate decorative designs, bright colors and is available in different sizes." The hard part looks like getting the little straps up over their wings, but it's probably worth the trouble during those long migrations.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com