Made in the shade: Federal workers reap outsized benefits and are hard to fire

by WorldTribune Staff, December 17, 2018

U.S. government workers are paid more, get better perks and have more options for healthcare than the private sector.

In spite of all the benefits they receive, a recent government employee survey found that some 40 percent are not satisfied with their compensation. / AP

And, even the most incompetent of federal workers are nearly “impossible to fire,” according to an analysis by Reagan-era personnel director Donald J. Devine.

“The current system is long overdue for a thoroughgoing makeover,” Devine said in his report for the Heritage Foundation, which was published on Dec. 10.

The Trump administration has also called for major reforms to reduce the annual $276 billion paid yearly to 2 million government workers.

Devine produced a list of federal worker pay and benefits:

  • Federal workers earn 22 percent to 40 percent more than private sector workers in pay and benefits.
  • Employees get cost of living and scheduled pay increases.
  • Paid time off include 20 vacation days, 13 paid sick days, 10 federal holidays.
  • The government pays 72 percent of healthcare premiums and offers some 300 healthcare plans.
  • Retirement with benefits comes at age 55 for those with 30 years.
  • Matches to retirement contributions range from 15 percent to 18 percent, far higher than the typical 3 percent to 5 percent in the private workforce.

“Our current system, largely implemented during the New Deal, was designed to replace the amateurism and corruption endemic to the old spoils system, wherein government jobs were used to reward loyal partisan foot soldiers, with professionalized, scientific, and politically neutral administration,” Devine wrote. “While Progressives designed the merit system to promote expertise and shield bureaucrats from partisan political pressure, it now insulates civil servants from accountability.”

Devine added, “The modern merit system has made it impossible to fire all but the most incompetent civil servants. Complying with arcane rules regarding recruiting, rating, hiring, and firing has replaced the goal of cultivating competence and expertise.”

Still, in spite of all the benefits they receive, a recent government employee survey found that some 40 percent are not satisfied with their compensation and that morale is low.

See Devine’s full report here


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