Federal over-compensation is bad enough simply because we taxpayers are stuck with the bill. But our government is also sending the wrong message. Since it over-pays, it encourages people to work for it even though most federal jobs don’t contribute much to overall economic growth. “Overpaying government employees means less economic growth and fewer jobs for everyone else,” as Sherk writes.
None of this is to claim that all federal employees are overpaid. There are high-performing federal workers who earn less than they would in the private market. Still, lawmakers should begin to apply market principles to the federal payroll, a process that could save up to $47 billion each year -- enough to fund the Departments of Commerce, Interior or Energy.
First, Congress should get rid of the General Schedule, which rewards employees based on their length of service, and replace it with performance-based pay, which would encourage workers to excel.
The federal government should also hire private contractors. Rather than hire, for example, staff assistants who can advance through the ranks and eventually earn $80,000 per year, Washington should contract such jobs out. They’ll be done just as well, and at far less cost.
Congress should also pare back federal benefits to bring them in line with what private sector workers earn. This seems only fair, since it’s private workers who pay the taxes that fund government jobs.
Americans should expect our federal government to be efficient and effective. Reforming the way it pays civil servants would be a good first step.