Feds: Knights In Teflon Armor

Monday - 9/26/2011, 2:09am EDT

According to some historians, just before they burned Joan of Arc at the stake, she told the guy with the Zippo lighter to "Have a great weekend!" Bummer dude!

I can't remember where I heard or read it . But I thought of it after reading about the survey which says that most federal workers are happy with their jobs. Was Joan a civil servant? Why? Well...

Let's see, a 2-year pay freeze. No-fault, no-pay furloughs. A year long media campaign showing feds riding the gravy train. A possible shutdown next week. And a Congressional committee which may gut the federal benefits package. Still, it's all good!

Despite all of the above, and with much, much worse looming on the horizon, federal workers say, by and large, that they are happy. Ecstatic, not so much! But happy.

Feds say they like their work. They like their jobs and would recommend the civil service as a career to friends and relatives. And it must be true because it comes from the 2011 OPM Employee Viewpoint Survey. It was conducted last year and a record 266,000 people participated, according to OPM.

The downside of the survey is that 40 percent of the respondents said their bosses deal poorly with poor performers. Also they felt government trails the private sector in training and giving workers the proper resources to do their job. For more on the survey, click here. In the piece on the survey, reporter Emily Kopp says "this might be the era of the Teflon fed."

With all that has happened, and almost happened, to feds in the past year you'd think they would be angry or shell-shocked. Yet that doesn't seem to be the case. And although I am highly skeptical of company-sponsored attitude surveys, I suspect this one is quite accurate.

We get a lot of e-mails here at Federal News Radio. And it's human nature that when people are angry or unhappy they are much more likely to sound off than those who are fine with, or indifferent to, whatever is going on. Even so, many of the comments we get from feds say that while they don't like the pay freeze, and the negative publicity, they are willing to accept the pay freeze if it will help the economy. What people seem most upset about is what they see as a vacation-obsessed, do-nothing Congress which allows a pointless furlough of FAA employees, and may or may not let the government shutdown next week.

  • "We are hearing a lot about the need for Federal employees to share in the nation's economic pain. There are innumerable plans to help us achieve this noble goal. When was the last time Congress, the President, or the public said that the economy is going well; we want Federal employees to share in our success? In my decades of Federal service, it seems to me that it has been: never." Larry at Social Security Administraton

  • "I remember when you used to write about how much our raise was going to be, pay parity with the military, and how much our insurance is going up. Those were the good old days. I used to say to people, jokingly, that one day I will just get a check stub showing what I paid for my benefits, and no money would be deposited in the bank. My nightmare is coming true.

    "...the current enviroment reminds me of a scene from the movie Animal House when all of the fraternity pledges were bent over getting whacked with a large paddle. Each time they got whacked they would say, "thank you sir, may I have another?" I didn't know while watching that movie it was a government employee's prophecy." Still, Under the Bus

  • " In the 9/21 column you wrote 'Take home pay for federal workers would drop anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year under President Obama's plan to require civil servants to contribute an additional 1.2 percent of salary to the retirement fund."

    "Well, at least we'll have a job, an income, health benefits, leave and, a retirement system, unlike millions of fellow Americans." D with GSA

  • " Somebody should investigate and find out what the average member of Congress costs the taxpayers. With travel, perks, parking, staff to perform personal chores, etc. it would probably run into the millions of dollars per-year-for-each of the 535 Reps and Senators. They make civil servants look like a bargain." Mel From Florida.