2010 and Beyond: Feds as scapegoats

Wednesday - 12/8/2010, 5:57pm EST

Pat Niehaus, National President, Federal Managers Association

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Pat Niehaus, the National President of the Federal Managers Association, said the big story of 2010 has been what she calls the unrealistic, unprecedented and virulent attacks against federal workers.

"Even though Congress is using us as a scapegoat, we're still providing a valuable service to the public," Niehaus said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

However, what's dominated public opinion has been what Niehaus describes as an unfair comparison between public and private pay. Salary comparisons have ignored the fact that the overall federal employees have more experience and education than the overall private sector, Niehaus said.

"I don't know if you would want someone fresh out of high school working on your nuclear programs," she said.

With an impending two-year pay freeze and talk about changing federal benefits, the coming years are "not looking rosy at all" for federal employees, Niehaus said.

Federal managers will have a particularly difficult time as workers feel disgruntled. In the current environment of "do more with less," manager should challenge employees to come up with better ways of doing their jobs, Niehaus said.

Agnecies also need to present "positive images" of federal employees, such as the winners of the Service to America medals.

"If there's more publicity of that kind, people will see federal employees are contributing amazing things to this country," Niehaus said.

She added, "Eventually Congress will have to realize these are not just scapegoats. These are real people."

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Click here to see all the stories in the '2010 and Beyond' series.