Survivor: Endangered feds

Since the Roosevelt administrations (both Teddy and Franklin), presidents and their designees have been tinkering with the civil service. Either trying to get it right ( Teddy) or trying to pack it with people of the right political persuasion (Franklin).

Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson presided over periods of big federal pay raises. JFK proposed bigger percentage pay raises for government executives than for rank-and-file employees. President Jimmy Carter gave us civil service reform.

Benefits improved under President Richard Nixon.

The Reagan administration wished the non-DoD side of government would sort of go away. Or at least be quiet. It didn’t.


President George H.W. Bush praised the work feds were doing, and won the hearts and minds of many career federal executives. By bringing them to D.C. for a pep-talk many still talk about.

President Bill Clinton, who had recently been head of the Arkansas state government, was stunned by “high” federal salaries nationwide, and especially in the Washington area. . He ordered the biggest federal downsizing in history. Thousands of federal jobs were eliminated and/or farmed out to the private sector. He refused to recommend catch-up-with-industry pay raises, under the formula spelled out in the bipartisan 1990 federal pay law, unless the value of government fringe benefits were part of the equation.

President George Bush continued the Clinton policies of recommending pay raises that were smaller than those dictated by the policy signed by his father in 1990.

Who knew?

Which brings me to this: Somebody here figured out the 10 most read “Federal Report” columns of 2011. One thing most of them have in common is the dire (but genuine at the time) warnings about what Congress wanted to do to you. They were very real threats at the time. But as 2011 went away there was no pay cut, no additional pay freeze, no change in the retirement formula, no tampering with the FERS Social Security annuity supplement. Nothing.

Any or all of those things could happen in 2012. Just because Congress didn’t get to them last year doesn’t mean you are home free. This is an election so they may take fewer vacations and stay in D.C. longer. Always a problem for you.

So check out the threats du jour of 2011. It’s good to stay tuned to the news. But, as you will see, there isn’t much point is worrying to much about what MIGHT happen.


By Jack Moore

It’s the start of a brand new year. And there’s now a brand-new list of words and phrases that are worn-out and should be “banned.” Lake Superior State University has released its 37th “list of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.” What made the list? “Amazing,” for overuse, particularly by talk show mavens Martha Stewart and Anderson Cooper; “baby bump” — blame Beyonce; “occupy”; and “win the future.”


Obama signs defense bill despite ‘reservations’
Administration officials said President Obama was only signing the measure because Congress made minimally acceptable changes that no longer challenged the president’s terrorism-fighting ability. Obama said to have “serious reservations” about provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

2011 a year of congressional showdowns
The year can be summed up by a trio of showdowns: the near-government shutdown in April, the August debt ceiling showdown and the last-minute wrangling over the payroll tax cut.