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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov. 5, 2012
INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1 Kristi Dougherty General Manager Phil Piemonte Managing Editor Sherkiya Wedgeworth Online Managing Editor Becky Fenton Circulation Manager Nathan Abse Writer Mike Causey Columnist Edward Zurndorfer Columnist Published by 1105 Government Information Group, Anne Armstrong, President. 1105 Government Information Group is part of 1105 Media, Inc. Neal Vitale, CEO. 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While the information has been reviewed for accuracy, there is no guarantee that the same or similar results may be achieved in all environments. Technical inaccuracies may result from printing errors and/or new develop- ments in the industry. This publication's subscriber list, as well as other lists from 1105 Media, Inc., is available for rental. For more information, please contact our list manager, Merit Direct. Phone: (914) 368-1000; E-mail: 1105media@ meritdirect.com; Web: www.meritdirect.com/1105. November 5, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 17 2 visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com have a clue. But now that the pollsters are free to start polling other people about other things, there is one area they should tackle: The issue of federal salaries. The question is, spe- cifically, are feds paid not enough, too much or just about right? And does a federal IT specialist, or carpenter or budget examiner make more or less than his or her counter- part in the private sector? According to the "experts" (we know they are because they tell us they are), you are paid either 40 percent more or 30 percent less than your counterparts at Westinghouse, Sears, Chevron and other private companies. And those are just straight salary match-ups, using different criteria. That doesn't include the value of fringe benefits---pensions, vacations, holi- days and sick leave---that add a different and whole new dimension. My math is always shaky, but even I can tell that 40 percent plus/30 percent minus is more than the accepted plus or minus 3 percent margin of error. So why not let the pollsters---some of whom charge a bundle---get to the bottom of the federal vs. private pay conundrum? They are crackerjack with numbers, and with extrapolating answers (how they handle people who intentionally lie to poll- sters is another thing). But surely they could do it. My suspicion is that most of us have never been polled by a pollster. I have, once. And it left me less than a believer. When I got my call, I was writing the Federal Diary column for The Washington Post. The guy on the phone asked if he could drop by for a 20-minute interview. I told him I was entirely too busy for such nonsense. When he said he would give me a really cool flashlight (and it was) and some other stuff, I said I would try to clear my calendar. Which I did. He arrived. I was keen to get the flash- light and proud that, as a Post columnist, someone was finally going to tap into my broad and superior knowledge about most things. Especially politics and the govern- ment. In fact, the questions were all about travel. Specifically, air travel. He wanted to know what my favorite airline was. I forget what it was, but I told him something. Then he asked which was my favorite foreign airline. Choices included Lufthansa, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines and a laundry list of others, including KLM, SAS, British Airways, etc. I told him that at that time I had only flown on one foreign carrier. Didn't matter, he said. He didn't care which one I liked based on experience, but just which one I liked. Just rank them in order, he said. Being an American mutt, heavy on the Irish side, I picked Aer Lingus. Even though I had never flown it. But it just sounded so, you know, Irish. In large part, because it is. Interview concluded. I got my flashlight. He got his data which---if the others being polled were like me---was next to useless. But we were both satisfied (although the flashlight didn't have batteries). Still... I think about this a lot, especially when I read the results of some political poll. If the people they ask are as dumb or uninformed as I was, then what good is it? But back to modern times. The year 2012. What do the pollsters do for an encore (besides handicapping the 2014 con- gressional races)? I say hire them to find out if feds are over- paid, underpaid or right in the sweet spot. They couldn't do any worse than some of the political pollsters. And they would certainly come up with a margin of error that was better than the spread between 40 percent plus and 30 percent minus. Who would pay them? That's the key question. If federal unions paid the tab, the meth- odology they used would---and I'm guessing here---likely prove that you are working for peanuts. That's it's a miracle anybody comes into government, and even more miracu- lous that anybody stays. If a conservative think tank hired the pollsters, odds are---again my guess---that you would come out looking like dumb, lucky, overpaid money hogs. But at least we would settle the issue once and for all. Even if the "answers" are wrong.
Oct. 29, 2012
Nov. 12, 2012