2010 and Beyond: Election ushers in age of austerity

Monday - 12/13/2010, 5:13pm EST

Linda Springer, former Director, OPM

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The DorobekINSIDER continues to look at the top stories of the year in the series '2010 and Beyond.'

The post-election political environment has been focused on deficit reduction, and federal employees may feel like they have targets on their backs.

The age of austerity is reflected in the potential two-year pay freeze and recommendations from the president's deficit reduction commission, said Linda Springer, former director of the Office of Personnel Management, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER. Springer is currently an executive director at Ernst and Young.

Public perception of feds as overpaid and under-delivering services has fueled the targeting of federal pay and benefits, Springer said. But this perception is "not always as fact-based and as accurate as it should be," Springer said.

"Broad, across-the-board" cuts don't make sense, she said.

Instead, the government needs to prioritize its services: Statutory, "keep-the-lights-on" services; mission-related activities; and things tangential to the mission but are "nice to do," Springer said.

She added, "When you break it down that way, coupled with the effectiveness of those programs, then you have a more insightful approach to understanding, when dollars are tight, where you spend."

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