Federal freeze to send SES running?

January 26, 2011 — President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday called for a reorganization of government to reduce redundancies and a five-year freeze on domestic spending.

The announcement poses a challenge to agencies of “continuing to do more and more with less and less,” said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executive Association, in an interview with Your Turn with Mike Causey.

While feds already face a two-year pay freeze through 2012, a bill in the House proposes a five-year federal pay freeze through 2015. An extended freeze could cause “long-term damage,” Bonosaro said, “not only to the executive corps but the civil service generally.”

The House bill also calls for a 15 percent reduction in the federal workforce through attrition by letting agencies hire one new worker for every two who leave.


Bonosaro said she worries that the cuts will be across-the-board.

“The question is, Where? Who?” she said. Bonosaro added, “We have to get some specificity.”

The current anti-federal worker atmosphere has led to low morale among executives, Bonosaro said.

Members of the Senior Executive Service are given raises based on performance. Between the economic strains and political environment, there is now a “very strong effort to tamp down on performance awards,” Bonosaro said.

She said a number of SES members are retiring, although how many will leave is still a question. But it’s “a real concern,” she said.

To add to this concern, managers in the General Schedule are reluctant to join the ranks of SES, according to a 2010 SEA survey of GS-14 and GS-15 employees.

These employees are discouraged to join SES due to the lack of work-life balance and the loss of locality and cost-of-living adjustments, Bonosaro said.

“That’s our worry. The best and brightest, many of them will say, Thank you but no thank you,” she said.

Also, Federal Times experts Steve Watkins and Sean Reilly, who covers the Postal Service, update us on what Congress can do and may do to you. And they talk about the anti-fed movement.

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