Let’s recap the facts: The federal government has what appears to be a permanent class of employees – over 20,000 people – who are denied health and pension benefits given to their permanent colleagues. If these employees are around for too long, they get fired or transferred to another department, which puts them back at square one. Can you envision the protests that would take place if Wal-Mart or Ford Motor Co. had the same policy? Unfortunately, most Americans don’t even know that this situation exists. It’s just another way our government creates “separate” rules for itself. While it is giving certain employees outlandish benefits it is cheating a class of employees out of any benefits.
Our research into the OPM provided some other fascinating information about our federal workforce. Temporary workers are paid at the same rate as their fellow permanent employees (at least they’re not cheated that way), and over the last 4 years, their average salary has increased over 22%. That’s an annual pay raise of 5.5%, more than double the rate of inflation. How many private sector employees have received increases like that?
In addition, the number of federal employees has just skyrocketed. In the first two years of the Obama Presidency, the federal workforce increased by 158,470 people, about 9.4%. That number is based on what they call non-seasonal, full-time permanent employees. As of 2010, there were 281,491 additional employees with some other classification. Since we know that 22,204 of these are temporary employees, only God knows what the other 259,000 are. The OPM told me that I had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out. I can guarantee one thing, though – those 259,000 people are costing us a boatload of money.
When the Congressional Super Committee meets in the next couple of months, they’ll be searching for ways to cut the deficit. But the vested interests are already digging in for a fight; after the debt ceiling deal, the President of the National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen M. Kelley, stated “I am pleased to see that the deal does not have any immediate cuts to federal pay or pensions.”
Congress should change that, and here are two simple ways to realize major savings. First, cut all federal employees salaries by 10%. They have received disproportionate raises over the past few years and those should be dialed back. Second, every department should be told to cut their workforce back to 2008 levels, reversing the ridiculous increases that the Obama administration has allowed to happen. Think of the billions in savings right there.
Then Congress should look into this temporary worker program. The federal government needs some flexibility in its hiring, but it’s quite clear this program is a sham and a disgrace.