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Shows & Panels
Pay Cuts & Security Clearances
Wednesday - 7/13/2011, 4:00am EDT
Private contractors love getting experienced feds with their talent, experience, connections and security track records. But are budget-cutters about to make things worse?
Are the must-have clearances going to be harder to get, and keep, in the future?
Some feds think actions taken by the White House and planned by Congress will make it tougher for feds walking a financial tightrope to get, or keep, a clearance. Consider:
Federal pay has been frozen for two years. Congress (which is fast-becoming a millionaires-only club) may extend that freeze. There is talk of eliminating within grade raises, etc. There are also plans (outlined here yesterday) to increase the retirement contribution of FERS employees.
If, and it's a big IF, FERS contributions are increased it would reduce take-home pay. Take home is your real salary, that is money you touch, smell and spend. For some people, especially in the higher grades, that is chump change. For many, however, take-home pay at current levels is highly useful for things like eating, rent/mortgage and paying the electric bill, etc.
Taking a 5 percent cut, during a pay freeze, could sink some employees. Example:
- " It would be so unfair to force FERS employees to contribute more to their retirement. Does Congress know, or care, that the FERS benefit is about half that available to employees under the CSRS system? Does Congress know or care that FERS employees also pay the full amount into Social Security? Ninety percent of the people in my IRS office are under FERS. It has taken years to bring them up to optimal speed. Is Congress trying to drive them out of government?" - Ranger Rick
- "I've enjoyed your coverage of possible changes to federal workers compensation. I'd like to suggest a story idea: How might these potential reductions in take-home pay (due to increased FERS contributions, increased health insurance premiums, etc.) affect feds' abilities to hold security clearances? We all know that credit ratings come into play, and anecdotally there are many feds living paycheck-to-paycheck. I think you see where I'm going with this." - Chris
- A D.C.-based Justice Department employee said "Some of our agencies watching the Mexican border are having major problems because drug dealers are making a major effort to bribe U.S. employees either to look the other way, provide inside information, or for tips. Imagine what will happen if the pay freeze is extended and if they are forced to pay higher health premiums with a frozen and reduced paycheck?" - Tex-Mex Territory
- "Places like the DEA, CIA and Homeland Security are very sensitive to the money-problems of employees. At the IRS people get fired for even tiny tax problems. Cutting pay at this stage of the game is a form of fiscal madness. Don't the clowns on the Hill know what is going on in the real world?" - Art
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
It's not just vegetables, a different kind of crop is also dependent on rainfall; the Bryce Canyon Tiger Salamander population is based entirely on rainfall. The National Park Service says the salamanders are prompted to mate by rain showers which bring them out of their usual cave habitat and breeding takes place in pools and ponds.
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