2010 and Beyond: Causey on the ups and downs of the year

Tuesday - 12/21/2010, 5:10pm EST

Mike Causey, senior correspondent, Federal News Radio

Click to hear the interview.

Download mp3

This year represented a "180-degree swing" for federal employees, said Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey.

Earlier in 2010, President Obama proposed a 1.4 percent pay raise for federal employees. By the end of this year, the president had proposed a two-year pay freeze, and the freeze is now included in the current spending measure moving through Congress.

The talk of downsizing government is also a sharp departure from announcements earlier this year to rely less on contractors and "bring those job back in," Causey said.

"Instead of hiring, [now] you have talk of furloughs and freezes," he said.

The public anger toward feds gained steam after a USA Today article in August that claimed feds made double their private sector counterparts. The report was called "unfair" by OPM Director John Berry. But the debate over federal pay continued into the midterm elections.

In comparison, 2009 was probably one of the best years for federal employees on Capitol Hill, Causey said. Feds received a 3 percent pay raise, 401(k) enhancements and improvements to make it easier to retire and come back to government after retirement, Causey said.

However, in 2010, "Mercury and Venus all aligned in the wrong way for federal workers," Causey said.

Causey added despite the looming pay freeze, federal employees are still eligible for in-grade pay raises. And in general, feds feel lucky to have jobs, he said.

"It could've been much worse," Causey said.

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