Feds Helping/Hurting Economic Recovery

Monday - 8/23/2010, 4:00am EDT

The collapse of the old Soviet Union ended the Cold War as we knew it.

In retrospect, for many, that period from 1945 to 1991 was the good old days. A time when the Russians carefully guarded their nukes rather than selling to (or allowing them to be stolen by) less responsible third parties. Before terrorists became an even greater threat.

Now we are faced with another problem: The enemy looks just like us and millions of you or your neighbors (but not me I hasten to add) slept with said threat last night.

The enemy, of course, is the federal civil servant who is growing fat while folks who make cake, work in poultry farms, factories and the housing business, are in trouble. The government is growing, dramatically, while unemployment claims in the private sector continue rise. Studies show that people are cashing in or borrowing from 401(k) plans to pay bills. And taking second jobs to make up for pay cuts or reduced hours from their first job.

Competing studies by good-government think tanks and anti-government think tanks say the problem is either:

  • Uncle Sam must do more. Promise and deliver better pay, more training, fast track promotions and work on worklife issues, like flexible hours and teleworking, day care, and adopt a results-based philosophy to get the keep the best and brightest. For more on that, click here

Or,

  • Stop paying federal workers so much money, and providing them benefits that private firms (who are not allowed to print money or collect it in the form of taxes) can't match. In overstated simple terms the problem is that the private sector is hard-pressed to snag talent that should be going into manufacturing, IT, research and development and banking. For that argument, click here

One thing about these occassionally fierce battles over the pros and cons of the bureaucracy is that they provide full employment: For people and organizations on both sides of the issue, for politicians and for people who cover the government, report on the in-fighting and wax eloquent about the "problem."

(If the issue of whether feds are hogs-at-the-trough OR dedicated overworked-underpaid-civil servants is ever solved, a lot of us will have to find other employment. As in get real jobs!)

Over the past couple of weeks we've collected a lot of e-mails from feds, retirees, contractors and private sector folks. Some of them - regardless of where you stand - are downright brilliant. Whether feds are oppressed or the new oppressors, it's worth knowing not everybody shares your opinion. And that maybe, just maybe, they have a good reason for thinking what they think.

While our main thrust here is pay and benefits, buyouts and retirement changes, best date to retire, that sort of thing there are other important issues. And it is August.

Meantime, let us know what you think. And why. We'll keep you posted. It might not change anybody's mind (after all, advocates get paid for advocating) but it might broaden your horizions.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Most of us use it every day, but few know the @ ("at" symbol) has been "acquired" by the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Architecture and Design.


ADDITIONAL PAY AND BENEFITS NEWS
Develop a successful onboarding strategy at your agency
So you've successfully hired someone -- that's great! But how do you make sure they stay with your organization past those initial first few weeks? A new book, Successful Onboarding: A Strategy to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization is chock full of tips to help you make sure you retain the best and the brightest once you snag them. Authors Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen are with Kaiser Associates and tell us more about successful onboarding, which Stein says begins from the moment of the acceptance of the job offer all the way through the employee's first or second year. Read more here.

ALSO ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
NASA Glenn Research Center named best gym
Federal News Radio listeners and readers say the NASA Glenn Research Center has the best gym in the federal government. Read the story. Be sure to check out the latest category in our Best of the Federal Government series. We want to know what agency has the best transportation and parking options in the government.

Dorobek Must Reads - Aug. 20
Worried you'll have no idea what people are talking about around the watercooler this morning? Each day, the DorobekInsider team collects a group of stories that we're reading to stay in the know. On Friday, we learn about the new trend of six-figure fish tanks. Read more here.