Value of feds overlooked in pay debate

Wednesday - 3/16/2011, 9:31am EDT

George Smith, vice president, Federal Managers Association

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Federal employees are overpaid and underworked. At least, that's the view of some members of Congress, thinktanks and commentators.

But George Smith, the new vice president of the Federal Managers Association, says the opposite is true - feds are probably paid less than the private sector if doing an "apples to apples" comparison.

Smith spoke to Federal News Radio's Tom Temin at FMA's annual legislative and training conference this week.

As a civilian with the Navy in Florida, Smith said artisans - skilled employees who work at the journeyman level - probably make 20 to 30 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector at companies such as Boeing. These employees have technical skills and ensure flight safety, he added.

Some bills introduced in both the House and Senate take aim at federal pay and benefits to cut federal spending. And the 2012 budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled last week would freeze federal pay for five years and reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition.

Federal managers have a job - to "step up and say what we do and not be the target," Smith said.

"Our job is to help others understand what we do and what we offer, and hopefully we can get folks on the Hill to understand how important it is to pass a budget on time," he said.

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