Causey: Feds 'outraged' over threats to pay, benefits

Tuesday - 3/22/2011, 2:55pm EDT

Mike Causey, senior correspondent, Federal News Radio

Click to hear the audio.

Download mp3

Congress passed a record sixth continuing resolution last week. All this uncertainty is leaving feds worried about not just their agency's budget but their pay and benefits too.

Federal News Radio Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says he hates the hype, but the threats to pay and benefits are real.

One proposal from the president's bipartisan deficit reduction commission would change the calculation for retirement benefits, from the high-three to high-five. Currently, benefits are based on the average of your salary during your last three years of employment. Changing the average to the last five years of employment would reduce the typical federal annuity "anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars a year - and that's for a life," Causey said.

A report by the Congressional Budget Office says converting the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to a voucher system would save $43 billion over the next decade. Most feds pay about 20 percent of their health care premiums. Under the vouchers, they could end up paying up to 50 percent, Causey said.

Last week, a bill in the Senate proposed ending feds' defined benefit pension portion of their retirement benefits. Causey said the retirement system would look more like a private sector retirement system and feds would have to "kick in more to get the same benefit you're guaranteed."

These efforts to "tamper with annuity, with their pensions, it's outraged people, it's frightened people," Causey said.