Author Topic: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system  (Read 10839 times)

doggyfizzle

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #50 on: September 27, 2017, 10:57:04 PM »
I haven't read this whole thread but have worked at a couple companies that have totally stopped pensions.

I think benefits for govt jobs should be benchmarked to industry.  At some point, once say less than X% of private industry offers a certain benefit, then the governement jobs should do the same.  This especially includes elected officials. 

What X should be is up for debate.  I think 20% is reasonable.  What happens when all private companies have done away with defined benefit pensions.  Why does government get to keep it just because they've always had it.

Why are these employees are never subject to layoffs whether the economy is up or down? Why is the number of government employees continually growing absent a demonstrable need to the point where federal spending is about 30% of GDP?  In 1913, government spending was was 3% of GDP.  Some people on here say, "Well, you can just get a government job yourself!" No, everyone cannot work for the public sector.  Illinois is proving this is true, and California is close on its heels.  The private sector needs tax and regulatory relief to start growing again.  We are also $20 trillion in debt. 

I am glad to hear that some parts of our government are staffed with good people who mean well and, to the extent that my experience was atypical, I apologize for what I said earlier.  The bad government employees need to be subject to layoffs just like the rest of us.  Some whole sectors need to be pared off completely.     

I agree with you that the government makes it overly hard to lay off poor employees.  I honestly don't know why that's the case.

Funny you mention this; as a Fed in a leadership program I learned about this just last week.  The General Schedule (and Merit Promotion/Peotection) was introduced to insulate Feds from corruption stemming directly from the top of the executive branch.  The idea was to provide employment protection for federal employees to prevent mass layoffs every change in presidency.

I've split my time as a STEM employee in private industry and federal government; there were plenty of worthless employees in both places.  In general, good employees will rise to the top or leave for a better opportunity elsewhere.  Presently, everyone in my working group all have BS or MS degrees in science and engineering disciplines, and all could jump to private sector positions if they wanted a change of pace.  All degrees are from Tier 1 schools as well, with several coworkers holding diplomas from Ivy League schools.  Sometimes I think the government is inefficient mantra stems from jealousy about how despite the prevailing attitude of flunkies working for the government, it really is hard to get a government job.

I found private industry just as inefficient as the Feds, and actually more frustrating because managers so often refused to let poor performing employees go.  While private industry in theory might be more "efficient" than government, human nature (and folly) seemed to provide a check on maximum efficiency in the corporate sector.

As far as pensions go, they were introduced as a means to encourage long tenure of government employees.  I presently see this as valuable, as it's worthwhile having people working in government who have experience serving in multiple presidential administrations and through different political cycles.  The FERS program, unlike most state pensions, is extremely well funded and isn't a massive financial liability unlike many state pensions.

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #51 on: September 28, 2017, 12:02:54 AM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

Working backwards from the bottom of your post, several people on here have documented how the benefits more-or-less make up for the raw pay. 

What Federal services are my tax dollars paying for that are better than those of, say, a tradesman or a construction worker?  What percentage of federal employees are providing services that I use versus writing regulations?  Even in the case of federal scientists, how many are working on science versus writing proposals or regulations?  Of those working on raw science, how many of these programs have any promise? In the case of the latter, the government has done some amazing science in the past.  We can now blow up the earth, for example, because of our nuclear weapons research.  There was ARPAnet and CDMA.  These programs are decades past.  Beyond sponsoring some device research, what have they done in recent memory?

A lot of these questions have answers that you could easily look up yourself.  A very small proportion of government employees 'write regulations'... I mean, come on.

If you don't know much about scientific work being done by government employees, well, again, it's easy to look around.  You may not be as interested in the research being done by the FDA or the EPA, but you may find some cool stuff coming out of the DOE.  You can probably guess that there's research being done at the NSA, the DOD, DHS, and the DOE that you have no idea about, but is probably 'worth your hard earned tax dollars'.  If you don't know what the government has contributed to basic science beyond nuclear weapons and 'some device research', you may want to take some time to look around.


I see this hype in journalism all the time.  Are you a scientist?  I just looked on the DOE's website and found project sponsorship for stuff we were promised in Scientific American about 30 years ago.  Where is it? 

I agree the government has done some amazing stuff in the past.  That isn't true today.  You asked what I'd cut: No Americans in Space Anymore would be the first to get the axe.  The rest should take about a 20% haircut or more until the public debt gets off the hockey stick. 


Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #52 on: September 28, 2017, 12:09:32 AM »
I haven't read this whole thread but have worked at a couple companies that have totally stopped pensions.

I think benefits for govt jobs should be benchmarked to industry.  At some point, once say less than X% of private industry offers a certain benefit, then the governement jobs should do the same.  This especially includes elected officials. 

What X should be is up for debate.  I think 20% is reasonable.  What happens when all private companies have done away with defined benefit pensions.  Why does government get to keep it just because they've always had it.

Why are these employees are never subject to layoffs whether the economy is up or down? Why is the number of government employees continually growing absent a demonstrable need to the point where federal spending is about 30% of GDP?  In 1913, government spending was was 3% of GDP.  Some people on here say, "Well, you can just get a government job yourself!" No, everyone cannot work for the public sector.  Illinois is proving this is true, and California is close on its heels.  The private sector needs tax and regulatory relief to start growing again.  We are also $20 trillion in debt. 

I am glad to hear that some parts of our government are staffed with good people who mean well and, to the extent that my experience was atypical, I apologize for what I said earlier.  The bad government employees need to be subject to layoffs just like the rest of us.  Some whole sectors need to be pared off completely.     

I agree with you that the government makes it overly hard to lay off poor employees.  I honestly don't know why that's the case. As far as the rest, again, those questions can be pretty easily answered.

A lot has changed since 1913.  Specifically, we fought 2 World Wars and expanded our military spending to the point where we support a military stronger than the rest of the world combined. Social security, Medicare, and Medicaid were added to the government as well. Defense and 'entitlements' are going to explain a majority of that jump.

Are you saying that California and Illinois are in trouble because they employ too many state workers? Illinois has a lot of issues, but one of their immediate troubles was due to their current Governor refusing to raise state taxes.  California has high taxes, but it doesn't seem to be slowing the tech industry down one bit.


You can't raise taxes in Illinois because everyone with means is moving out.  You can live in another state and still work in Illinois.  I have colleagues who do it.  You can't squeeze water out of a rock. 

High taxes are slowing everything down in California.  Businesses are moving out in droves.  The state has the 49th worst business climate out of 50 states.  The tech that remains is stuck in place for a variety of reasons.  For example, it would cost Northrop Grumman a fortune to move its satellite high-bays to another state.  Other businesses can't move because their senior employees won't move and they have infrastructure that's very expensive to move.  Our own CEO has said this. 

It's funny how people on here have the mindset of cutting their own spending to resolve budget problems but then the government needs to TAX TAX TAX to resolve its problems. 


Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #53 on: September 28, 2017, 08:18:54 AM »
There is certainly government waste but I see it more in poor planning in procedures and far less so in manpower/salaries/benefits.  Of the 3 agencies my husband has worked for, all have been understaffed.  It's more problems like ordering product X before approval to use product X, not getting approval and the product going to waste.  Or a training is offered in State A and State B.  State A is sending its employees to State B and vice versa. If they looked into it further, they would realize the error and have everyone train in their home state saving on airfare and hotels.

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #54 on: September 28, 2017, 08:30:21 AM »
That is our experience, as well, Blonde Lawyer.

It also is notable that while raw numbers of federal civilian employees have grown over the decades, the number of civilian feds employed PER CAPITA has shrunk dramatically from its peak under Nixon (14.4 feds/1,000 U.S. citizens).  The last 3 presidents have chopped the shit out of the civilian workforce, number wise, through a combination of  hiring freezes and attrition. 

Number of civilian employees per capita reached an all time low for the modern era under Obama: 8.5 civilian feds/1,000 U.S. citizens. 



CheapskateWife

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #55 on: September 28, 2017, 08:46:42 AM »
That is our experience, as well, Blonde Lawyer.

It also is notable that while raw numbers of federal civilian employees have grown over the decades, the number of civilian feds employed PER CAPITA has shrunk dramatically from its peak under Nixon (14.4 feds/1,000 U.S. citizens).  The last 3 presidents have chopped the shit out of the civilian workforce, number wise, through a combination of  hiring freezes and attrition. 

Number of civilian employees per capita reached an all time low for the modern era under Obama: 8.5 civilian feds/1,000 U.S. citizens.
I can only speak for my office/location, but we were forced to cut 25% of our federal work force over the last 2 years....the work load has not decreased proportionately.


Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #56 on: September 28, 2017, 09:35:08 AM »
If the number of employees versus the population is shrinking and the roads and infrastructure are crumbling (except in DC) and spending over the past 100 years has gone up like a hockey stick, we need to ask ourselves what's being done with the money:
http://stats.areppim.com/stats/stats_usxrecxspendxdlr.htm

For example, why is DC the richest area in the world?  Is our public money being skimmed off to line the pockets of those living there?

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #57 on: September 28, 2017, 09:44:00 AM »
If the number of employees versus the population is shrinking and the roads and infrastructure are crumbling (except in DC) and spending over the past 100 years has gone up like a hockey stick, we need to ask ourselves what's being done with the money:
http://stats.areppim.com/stats/stats_usxrecxspendxdlr.htm

For example, why is DC the richest area in the world?  Is our public money being skimmed off to line the pockets of those living there?

Medicare, Medicaid, SS, The Military.  That's the vast majority of gov't spending, and all have been increasing.  This is not secret knowledge. Are you trolling?

L.A.S.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #58 on: September 28, 2017, 09:50:03 AM »
If the number of employees versus the population is shrinking and the roads and infrastructure are crumbling (except in DC) and spending over the past 100 years has gone up like a hockey stick, we need to ask ourselves what's being done with the money:
http://stats.areppim.com/stats/stats_usxrecxspendxdlr.htm

For example, why is DC the richest area in the world?  Is our public money being skimmed off to line the pockets of those living there?

No, it is because it is where highly paid private lobbyists, contractors, consultants, and law firms necessarily set up shop.  The amount of money that goes towards these endeavors is mind-boggling.  The lobbyists, contractors, consultants, and lawyers bid up every last square inch of real estate as well as the price of goods and services in the area.

Many government employees, when they are first hired, struggle to live in the D.C. metro region on their pay.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #59 on: September 28, 2017, 10:01:09 AM »
...I agree the government has done some amazing stuff in the past.  That isn't true today.  You asked what I'd cut: No Americans in Space Anymore would be the first to get the axe.  The rest should take about a 20% haircut or more until the public debt gets off the hockey stick.

My agency does not run on tax dollars.  User fees only and in the past (before recent laws such as AIA) congress had to raided our user fees for the general fund.

20% "haircut" in my agency wouldn't do anything except have more pissed off corporations and inventors.  Unless you mean find lower qualified individuals and pay them 20% less in which case you can expect overly broad patents to become the norm instead of the exception and have more patent trolls (NPEs) stymieing business with patent blackmailing.

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #60 on: September 28, 2017, 10:08:20 AM »
I wish I had the numbers, but apparently the vast majority of government employees are on the lower end of the pay scale; in jobs that require less education or lower skill sets.

You have this exactly backwards.  Compared to the economy at large, the federal workforce has a proportionately much smaller number of burger flippers and retail workers, and a much bigger proportion of scientists and lawyers.  Oh so many lawyers.

There are a lot of janitors for all of those federal facilities, but most of those are private contract workers now, not feds themselves.

Think about the services the federal government provides, compared to the services the rest of the economy provides, and reconsider your assertion about the required education and skill level of the federal workforce.  This disparity is the reason why federal pay is higher than average per employee, and yet lower than average per job type.  There are a lot of underpaid people in high paying professions working for you.  You're welcome.

Working backwards from the bottom of your post, several people on here have documented how the benefits more-or-less make up for the raw pay. 

What Federal services are my tax dollars paying for that are better than those of, say, a tradesman or a construction worker?  What percentage of federal employees are providing services that I use versus writing regulations?  Even in the case of federal scientists, how many are working on science versus writing proposals or regulations?  Of those working on raw science, how many of these programs have any promise? In the case of the latter, the government has done some amazing science in the past.  We can now blow up the earth, for example, because of our nuclear weapons research.  There was ARPAnet and CDMA.  These programs are decades past.  Beyond sponsoring some device research, what have they done in recent memory?

A lot of these questions have answers that you could easily look up yourself.  A very small proportion of government employees 'write regulations'... I mean, come on.

If you don't know much about scientific work being done by government employees, well, again, it's easy to look around.  You may not be as interested in the research being done by the FDA or the EPA, but you may find some cool stuff coming out of the DOE.  You can probably guess that there's research being done at the NSA, the DOD, DHS, and the DOE that you have no idea about, but is probably 'worth your hard earned tax dollars'.  If you don't know what the government has contributed to basic science beyond nuclear weapons and 'some device research', you may want to take some time to look around.


I see this hype in journalism all the time.  Are you a scientist?  I just looked on the DOE's website and found project sponsorship for stuff we were promised in Scientific American about 30 years ago.  Where is it? 

I agree the government has done some amazing stuff in the past.  That isn't true today.  You asked what I'd cut: No Americans in Space Anymore would be the first to get the axe.  The rest should take about a 20% haircut or more until the public debt gets off the hockey stick.

It sounds so simple doesn't it? Just cut the programs that don't provide tangible immediate value and the budget will magically be fixed. 20% off each department should just mean laying off one out of every five people, surely there's enough dead weight for that.

Do you have any deeper thoughts on how this might be implemented for a specific department? Do you know what NASA's current budget is today and how it gets allocated? What 20% do you want to cut off of the DoD's budget? What about the DHS? Did you know these two departments are currently desperate to hire more qualified individuals but can't because there already aren't enough qualified people out there?  Is that reduction in the strength of the USA's national security worth the amount of savings it will contribute to lessen the deficit? Do you even know how much it would lessen the deficit? You can probably guess it would be way less than 20%.

if the best you can do is go to the DOEs website and look at their promoted press releases, then you're missing about 99% of the research that's coming out of the National Labs.

It's a really complex problem, and unfortunately the discussion seems to have derailed the thread. But don't you think that if it were this easy that it would have been done? Treating it as such a simple issue should clue you into the fact that you may want to do a bit more research of your own on how cuts to specific departments might impact your day to day life. Plus, as already said, the vast majority of Federal spending these days is military and entitlements. Complaining about federal workers receiving retirement benefits that were promised to them as a condition of their employment agreement doesn't seem like the best place to start.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #61 on: September 28, 2017, 10:31:49 AM »
I see this hype in journalism all the time.  Are you a scientist?  I just looked on the DOE's website and found project sponsorship for stuff we were promised in Scientific American about 30 years ago.  Where is it? 

I agree the government has done some amazing stuff in the past.  That isn't true today.  You asked what I'd cut: No Americans in Space Anymore would be the first to get the axe.  The rest should take about a 20% haircut or more until the public debt gets off the hockey stick.

It sounds so simple doesn't it? Just cut the programs that don't provide tangible immediate value and the budget will magically be fixed. 20% off each department should just mean laying off one out of every five people, surely there's enough dead weight for that.

Do you have any deeper thoughts on how this might be implemented for a specific department? Do you know what NASA's current budget is today and how it gets allocated? What 20% do you want to cut off of the DoD's budget? What about the DHS? Did you know these two departments are currently desperate to hire more qualified individuals but can't because there already aren't enough qualified people out there?  Is that reduction in the strength of the USA's national security worth the amount of savings it will contribute to lessen the deficit? Do you even know how much it would lessen the deficit? You can probably guess it would be way less than 20%.

20% off the DoD spending (not necessarily personnel) might well be near good enough on its own...is it simply the difference in pay that causes our defense budget to be more than double the next nearest country?  Or how about our defense budget being nearly equal to the next 7 or 8 countries combined?  I realize pensions and healthcare benefits are a large chunk that shouldn't be touched, but I would not be opposed to reviewing our treaties with other nations and obligations under NATO to see if we can't decrease the number of overseas bases we have.  I suppose we don't want to secede the world to other powers, but perhaps we could do just as much by taking 1% of the DoD budget, putting it towards foreign aid and keeping the remaining 19% reduction in spending for deficits, funding basic science & health.

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #62 on: September 28, 2017, 10:52:42 AM »
Most Americans take for granted the services that their government provides, because they are provided seamlessly and invisibly.  Nobody notices when the lights and water just always seem to work.  They assume their food is safe to eat, that the courts will review cases and that prisoners are secure, their mail gets delivered, that the Russians will not invade Alaska.  We expect the internet to connect us, and our money supply be stable and respected, and our federal lands and wildlife to be there for us to visit, and our weather forecasts to be updated hourly, and our social security checks to always arrive on time.

People are generally not enthused to pay for things they have never had to live without.  We don't recognize the value provided by federal services with record efficiency rates and fewer employees than ever before (excluding our ballooning military) because we take for granted those things we have always had.

Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #63 on: September 28, 2017, 11:10:41 AM »
Quote
Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich.  Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars, on top of the excellent TSP, excellent health care, excellent time off, excellent work life balance.  In 3 years time my wife will get a full day (in addition to sick time) off every two weeks.  That accrues without limit.  It's not unheard of for people to retire from the government and get 12-24 months of pay as a parting gift.

I would easily try to get a federal job if I could stand the shit-show that software development is at the federal level.  I'm not making it up; I've seen it first hand, it's just awful. 

Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 11:15:56 AM by starguru »

fattest_foot

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #64 on: September 28, 2017, 11:21:28 AM »
I see this hype in journalism all the time.  Are you a scientist?  I just looked on the DOE's website and found project sponsorship for stuff we were promised in Scientific American about 30 years ago.  Where is it? 

I agree the government has done some amazing stuff in the past.  That isn't true today.  You asked what I'd cut: No Americans in Space Anymore would be the first to get the axe.  The rest should take about a 20% haircut or more until the public debt gets off the hockey stick.

Just because you aren't aware of it doesn't mean it's not happening. The Navy, Health and Human Services, Army, and NASA are all on the top 300 list for US patents.

I work for the Navy and get briefings on things that I'm absolutely amazed are being developed.

The reason I was oblivious though? There's no reason for a normal civilian to either know about them, or to care enough about them. Does random MMM forum poster care about 100% biodiesel jet fuel? Probably not. But it was developed and has potential uses outside the military. If commercial airlines started using it, would you ever even know?

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #65 on: September 28, 2017, 11:35:42 AM »
We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich. 

Is it the federal pension that you find so morally objectionable?  Because the reason the federal pension still exists while private pensions are in decline is that the federal pension system is fully funded, responsibly managed, and not raided to juice quarterly earnings the way so many corporate pension plans were.  We should be celebrating the fact that the federal government appears to be more fiscally responsible than private enterprise, at least in this one department.

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Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars,

First, gs15 is the highest gs grade available so that's bit of an unfair comparison to your average worker.  More like corporate executive pay, and I assure you those folks get great benefits.

Second, like all gs employees 15s just endured a three year pay freeze.  0% raises, set by congress, regardless of job performance.  How much more do you want to cut?

Third, the pension is only valuable if you stay in federal service for your entire career and work until traditional retirement age.  Early retirees get hosed.  Anyone who leaves for private sector gets hosed (on the pension, but paid a bunch more once they get out).  From that perspective, the pension only partially offsets their lower paychecks for all of those decades.

Fourth, federal employees contribute 4.4% of their pay each year towards pensions that only pay out 1% per year of service.  A person's salary is basically irrelevant in this case, because it is all based on percentages, so you can stop trying to exaggerate the situation by quoting "millions" in pension value without mentioning the amounts paid in.

So much dishonesty here it upsets me.

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #66 on: September 28, 2017, 11:48:20 AM »
Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.

Federal civilian gs employees have always had a cap on accrued annual leave, and ses employees have had a cap for the past 23 years.

I'm getting the feeling you don't really know what you're talking about, but if you would like to continue to disparage federal employees I will attempt to continue patiently explaining why your preconceived notions are mistaken.

Slee_stack

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #67 on: September 28, 2017, 12:02:58 PM »
Most Americans take for granted the services that their government provides, because they are provided seamlessly and invisibly.  Nobody notices when the lights and water just always seem to work.  They assume their food is safe to eat, that the courts will review cases and that prisoners are secure, their mail gets delivered, that the Russians will not invade Alaska.  We expect the internet to connect us, and our money supply be stable and respected, and our federal lands and wildlife to be there for us to visit, and our weather forecasts to be updated hourly, and our social security checks to always arrive on time.

People are generally not enthused to pay for things they have never had to live without.  We don't recognize the value provided by federal services with record efficiency rates and fewer employees than ever before (excluding our ballooning military) because we take for granted those things we have always had.

Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.
I am in a federal employee family so we are already 'employed'.  However, we agree we are overcompensated. Probably VERY overcompensated.

Had I personally to do things over, I would have went the government route...or become an Aircraft mechanic (but that's another story).  I would have racked up more money and likely enjoyed a better life balance.  oh well.  Too bad, so sad for me.   At this point in time, its moot. I'm glad DW was 'smarter'.

What I don't buy though is your suggestion that 'if you don't like it, go get a gov't job'.  That's akin to credentialism.  I don't need to be an Astronaut to have an opinion on how much of my money should be spent on space programs.  I may not end up with an actual choice, but I can certainly voice my displeasure (or kudos).

Efficiency (or effectivity) matters to me.  I wish it would matter more to most.  We all end up ultimately paying for government workers.  We all have a legit say whether we are satisfied with the current process or not.

I'm not content with the 'value' provided by our government.  It could and should be better.  If a piece of that is minor cuts to federal employee benefits, so be it..


starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #68 on: September 28, 2017, 12:03:34 PM »
We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich. 

Is it the federal pension that you find so morally objectionable?  Because the reason the federal pension still exists while private pensions are in decline is that the federal pension system is fully funded, responsibly managed, and not raided to juice quarterly earnings the way so many corporate pension plans were.  We should be celebrating the fact that the federal government appears to be more fiscally responsible than private enterprise, at least in this one department.

You are arguing against things I am not claiming.  Everything you mention is great.  All I am saying is that federal employees are not underpaid, particularly because their benefits, and especially their pension, are excellent. 

Quote
Quote
Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars,

First, gs15 is the highest gs grade available so that's bit of an unfair comparison to your average worker.  More like corporate executive pay, and I assure you those folks get great benefits.

Second, like all gs employees 15s just endured a three year pay freeze.  0% raises, set by congress, regardless of job performance.  How much more do you want to cut?

I agree that GS15 is high, but its still pretty good from GS13 on up.  Re the pay freezes, they still got COLAS, and spot bonuses, and average middle class wages haven't grown much either.  So that seems appropriate.

Quote
Third, the pension is only valuable if you stay in federal service for your entire career and work until traditional retirement age.  Early retirees get hosed.  Anyone who leaves for private sector gets hosed (on the pension, but paid a bunch more once they get out).  From that perspective, the pension only partially offsets their lower paychecks for all of those decades.

Yeah, but that's how pensions work.  I'll agree early retirees don't get as much benefit from the pension, but we are talking about average Jane worker, not people interested in RE.  If you want to retire early, you want to front load your earnings as much as possible and seek highest immediate dollars.  Plus, if I'm not mistaken after a certain bit early retirees can still get some of their pension.


Quote
Fourth, federal employees contribute 4.4% of their pay each year towards pensions that only pay out 1% per year of service.  A person's salary is basically irrelevant in this case, because it is all based on percentages, so you can stop trying to exaggerate the situation by quoting "millions" in pension value without mentioning the amounts paid in.

So much dishonesty here it upsets me.

According to this, it's 3.1%, and it's only for people hired after 2012.  And it seems pretty generous to pay in 3.1% to get up 1% per year of service for as long as you live in retirement. Im not exaggerating.  If my wife retires at 60, with 30 years of service, and lives 30 years, she will collect millions in todays dollars.  On top of her TSP. And SS. 

Im not sure what's dishonest, except your 4.4% claim, and the implication that all federal employees are paying it.  And, it's just an opinion.  Federal pay is fine.

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #69 on: September 28, 2017, 12:30:57 PM »
I agree that GS15 is high, but its still pretty good from GS13 on up.  Re the pay freezes, they still got COLAS, and spot bonuses, and average middle class wages haven't grown much either.  So that seems appropriate.

GS 13 through 15 are about 20% of the federal workforce.  If your claim is that the top quintile is better paid than everyone else, I can't really disagree with that.  That is true for any arbitrary number.

No, feds did not get a COLA in 3 of the past 8 years.  You are mistaken. 

Bonuses? What are bonuses?  As a general rule, federal employees do not get bonuses.  Also no profit sharing, Christmas party, or free office coffee.

Middle class wages are up 5.2% this year, according to the federal employees at the census bureau.  The federal pay raise was 1%.  Inflation was 1.3%.

Quote
Im not sure what's dishonest, except your 4.4% claim

The bipartisan budget act of 2013 raised the federal employee pension contribution from 3.1 to 4.4% for all employees hired after 12/31/13, and every employees going forward from here.  Trump is backing the GOP proposal to raise that to 10.4%.

Gondolin

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #70 on: September 28, 2017, 12:43:42 PM »
Quote
I'm not content with the 'value' provided by our government.  It could and should be better.

Can you specifically list the additional services the gov't ought to be providing you?


Quote
20% off the DoD spending...
Looking at just the discretionary budget, a 20% cut would be ~$120B or, about a third of the current projected deficit.

Problem is, this kind of cut comes with all the same hard questions that the pan-gov't "haircut" had. Which service bears the burnt of the reduction? How many bases have to close and how many aircraft carriers get mothballed? What aircraft get grounded and which weapon procurements get cancelled? Which domains have their R&D cancelled? How many servicemen will need to be released and can the industrial base handle the layoffs that would accompany all these program cancellations?
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SoundFuture

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #71 on: September 28, 2017, 12:48:22 PM »

Middle class wages are up 5.2% this year, according to the federal employees at the census bureau.  The federal pay raise was 1%.  Inflation was 1.3%.


Sorry folks this is entirely unrelated:
Sol can you send me the link for this one? The latest releases I've seen show overall wages up ~2.5% and real wages up about ~0.9% for the last year (not YTD).  I can't find anything more specific than that.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #72 on: September 28, 2017, 12:54:55 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #73 on: September 28, 2017, 12:55:27 PM »
I agree that GS15 is high, but its still pretty good from GS13 on up.  Re the pay freezes, they still got COLAS, and spot bonuses, and average middle class wages haven't grown much either.  So that seems appropriate.

GS 13 through 15 are about 20% of the federal workforce.  If your claim is that the top quintile is better paid than everyone else, I can't really disagree with that.  That is true for any arbitrary number.

No, feds did not get a COLA in 3 of the past 8 years.  You are mistaken. 

Bonuses? What are bonuses?  As a general rule, federal employees do not get bonuses.  Also no profit sharing, Christmas party, or free office coffee.

Middle class wages are up 5.2% this year, according to the federal employees at the census bureau.  The federal pay raise was 1%.  Inflation was 1.3%.

Quote
Im not sure what's dishonest, except your 4.4% claim

The bipartisan budget act of 2013 raised the federal employee pension contribution from 3.1 to 4.4% for all employees hired after 12/31/13, and every employees going forward from here.  Trump is backing the GOP proposal to raise that to 10.4%.

So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out.  The worker making $80k a year would about $3500 a year, which after 30 years amounts to ~$105k.  The pension would be $24k a year.  Takes a little over 4 years to break even.  I know, the horror.  And, some federal workers get more than 1% times years of service.

While FERS is well funded the CSRS system is not. 

Again, my point is when you take the salary, pension, health care, time off, TSP, work life balance, etc, federal employees are paid ok.  Could some make more in the private sector?  Probably. They'd be working a lot harder for it though. 

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #74 on: September 28, 2017, 12:57:20 PM »
Starguru, just a little life advice.  You might want to avoid suggesting your wife is overpaid and doesn't work hard enough or as hard as others.  LOL. 

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #75 on: September 28, 2017, 12:57:41 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #76 on: September 28, 2017, 12:59:20 PM »
Starguru, just a little life advice.  You might want to avoid suggesting your wife is overpaid and doesn't work hard enough or as hard as others.  LOL.

lol I know better than to say that.  It's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying she is paid pretty well given her work life balance.  She agrees with me.  Life is good.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #77 on: September 28, 2017, 01:56:53 PM »

Quote
20% off the DoD spending...
Looking at just the discretionary budget, a 20% cut would be ~$120B or, about a third of the current projected deficit.

Problem is, this kind of cut comes with all the same hard questions that the pan-gov't "haircut" had. Which service bears the burnt of the reduction? How many bases have to close and how many aircraft carriers get mothballed? What aircraft get grounded and which weapon procurements get cancelled? Which domains have their R&D cancelled? How many servicemen will need to be released and can the industrial base handle the layoffs that would accompany all these program cancellations?

Yes, an incredibly difficult question to answer.  However, I believe it should be answered.  Are we still planning our military with the idea that we will be the sole combatants in 3 separate theaters simultaneously?

It seems a bit ridiculous to fund the DoD at a greater level the entirety of the rest of the govt (I'm not considering entitlements and debt servicing as "the rest of govt").  Military spending is out of control.  We just increased the funding for the military to $700B.  Seems irresponsible to increase military spending while discussing decreasing core science and health protection (however, I don't believe they actually decreased everything that was on the initial wish list for cuts).  We'll just be a nation that is one giant war machine and little else on the current trajectory.

spartana

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #78 on: September 28, 2017, 02:59:28 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-6 or GS-7with a  Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $35k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.
https://www.federalpay.org/gs/2017
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 03:05:59 PM by spartana »
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starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #79 on: September 28, 2017, 03:09:54 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-5 or GS-6 with a Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $39k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.

Yeah I tell her if she ever wants to leave that's the minimum she should accept.  And she'd have to work like 1000 more hours a year. 

This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me. 

snapperdude

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #80 on: September 28, 2017, 03:15:13 PM »


"So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out. "


I had no idea that pension money taken out over 30 years was left in a box on a shelf all that time. It seems like there could have been some, you know, earnings of some type on the money all those years.

mm1970

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #81 on: September 28, 2017, 03:24:54 PM »
Quote
Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich.  Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars, on top of the excellent TSP, excellent health care, excellent time off, excellent work life balance.  In 3 years time my wife will get a full day (in addition to sick time) off every two weeks.  That accrues without limit.  It's not unheard of for people to retire from the government and get 12-24 months of pay as a parting gift.

I would easily try to get a federal job if I could stand the shit-show that software development is at the federal level.  I'm not making it up; I've seen it first hand, it's just awful. 

Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.
Pretty much everyone at my former job retires at a GS-15 or above.  I mean, I suppose some don't make it past a 14?  But I doubt it.  I remember attending the retirement party 20 years ago of someone who was there 40 years.  He did, quite literally, get paid for 2 years after because of accrued vacation and sick time.

I am sometime jealous, but really don't want to deal with DC traffic anymore, one of the reasons I left 20 years ago.

fattest_foot

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #82 on: September 28, 2017, 03:25:01 PM »
This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me.

I'm not actually sure how that's even possible. I'm a GS-12 in the Los Angeles locality which I believe is the highest locality in the nation. From what I understand, outside of DC, most people never even make it to the GS-12 level. The lowest pay for GS-12 in Los Angeles is $81,319.

Explaining it away by people being long tenured doesn't work, because GS-11 is the where you can finally get above $82k with step increases, and that's at step 8.

So unless we've got a bunch of administrative people in the federal government at the GS-11+ level (edit: Also missed where it says average grade is 10, so now I'm even more confused), who have been in service for 20+ years (15 years to get to step 8), $82k as an average seems so out of whack. The other option I guess is that we have WAY more SES's than I originally though; so many that it skews that average in a drastic way.

Edit: Oh, and I also noticed it says only 51% have a bachelor's degree. I'm suddenly starting to feel significantly underpaid.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 03:29:27 PM by fattest_foot »

L.A.S.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #83 on: September 28, 2017, 03:34:06 PM »


"So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out. "


I had no idea that pension money taken out over 30 years was left in a box on a shelf all that time. It seems like there could have been some, you know, earnings of some type on the money all those years.

Yeah, pretty much.  I think whatever isn't used to pay out to present annuitants is used loaned to the government somehow.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #84 on: September 28, 2017, 03:36:32 PM »


"So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out. "


I had no idea that pension money taken out over 30 years was left in a box on a shelf all that time. It seems like there could have been some, you know, earnings of some type on the money all those years.

Yeah, pretty much.  I think whatever isn't used to pay out to present annuitants is used loaned to the government somehow.

Sure, but the original argument by Sol was that feds have to pay 4.4% into the system, to get *only 1% per year of service*, as if that is a bad deal.  The FERS system is both generous and well run.  The CSRS system on the other hand....yikes.....

spartana

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #85 on: September 28, 2017, 03:40:40 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-5 or GS-6 with a Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $39k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.

Yeah I tell her if she ever wants to leave that's the minimum she should accept.  And she'd have to work like 1000 more hours a year. 

This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me.
I don't know how the Feds break down "professional" vs. "Other" jobs. I imagine someone like a engineer would be considered other or technical even though they have a degree and professional license. Lots of non- PhD scientist are considered Techs or other. Probably the same for many jobs. Law enforcement, compliance, regulatory type jobs that require degrees are probably "other" rather than professional. All I know is that if I look at the OPM job site there are lots of degree-required low income jobs that outside the feds would be considered professional.

As for my state job pension I had to pay in 7%.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 03:43:07 PM by spartana »
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starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #86 on: September 28, 2017, 03:41:18 PM »
Quote
Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich.  Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars, on top of the excellent TSP, excellent health care, excellent time off, excellent work life balance.  In 3 years time my wife will get a full day (in addition to sick time) off every two weeks.  That accrues without limit.  It's not unheard of for people to retire from the government and get 12-24 months of pay as a parting gift.

I would easily try to get a federal job if I could stand the shit-show that software development is at the federal level.  I'm not making it up; I've seen it first hand, it's just awful. 

Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.
Pretty much everyone at my former job retires at a GS-15 or above.  I mean, I suppose some don't make it past a 14?  But I doubt it.  I remember attending the retirement party 20 years ago of someone who was there 40 years.  He did, quite literally, get paid for 2 years after because of accrued vacation and sick time.

I am sometime jealous, but really don't want to deal with DC traffic anymore, one of the reasons I left 20 years ago.

Most of the people DW works with are retired military, so they are getting military pension, and when they retire they will get their government pension, on top of SS.  They are all GS15s.  Very early in my career I worked for a government agency and I could have sworn someone retired and got paid for some ridiculous amount of vacation time.  But from what I discovered earlier newer employees are capped at some (generous) number of days. 

index

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #87 on: September 28, 2017, 03:47:25 PM »
I agree that GS15 is high, but its still pretty good from GS13 on up.  Re the pay freezes, they still got COLAS, and spot bonuses, and average middle class wages haven't grown much either.  So that seems appropriate.

GS 13 through 15 are about 20% of the federal workforce.  If your claim is that the top quintile is better paid than everyone else, I can't really disagree with that.  That is true for any arbitrary number.

No, feds did not get a COLA in 3 of the past 8 years.  You are mistaken. 

Bonuses? What are bonuses?  As a general rule, federal employees do not get bonuses.  Also no profit sharing, Christmas party, or free office coffee.

Middle class wages are up 5.2% this year, according to the federal employees at the census bureau.  The federal pay raise was 1%.  Inflation was 1.3%.

Quote
Im not sure what's dishonest, except your 4.4% claim

The bipartisan budget act of 2013 raised the federal employee pension contribution from 3.1 to 4.4% for all employees hired after 12/31/13, and every employees going forward from here.  Trump is backing the GOP proposal to raise that to 10.4%.

So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out.  The worker making $80k a year would about $3500 a year, which after 30 years amounts to ~$105k.  The pension would be $24k a year.  Takes a little over 4 years to break even.  I know, the horror.  And, some federal workers get more than 1% times years of service.

While FERS is well funded the CSRS system is not. 

Again, my point is when you take the salary, pension, health care, time off, TSP, work life balance, etc, federal employees are paid ok.  Could some make more in the private sector?  Probably. They'd be working a lot harder for it though.

$6500 invested annually over 30 years is 450k at a 5% ROR. Suppose the government matches that, and it's 900k in a pot. Retire at 60 and 18 years of payments... What is the average life expectancy?

Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-5 or GS-6 with a Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $39k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.

Yeah I tell her if she ever wants to leave that's the minimum she should accept.  And she'd have to work like 1000 more hours a year. 

This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me. 


I think those stats are wrong. CSRS ended in 1987 and all future employees were placed under FERS. So unless 85% of federal employees are 50+ years old (and the source says the average age is 47), this cannot be right. Further down it states Retirement Plan - 4.2% Civil Service Retirement, 91.53% Federal Employees Retirement System.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #88 on: September 28, 2017, 03:49:16 PM »
I don't know how the Feds break down "professional" vs. "Other" jobs. I imagine someone like a engineer would be considered other or technical even though they have a degree and professional license. Lots of non- PhD scientist are considered Techs or other. Probably the same for many jobs. Law enforcement, compliance, regulatory type jobs that require degrees are probably "other" rather than professional. All I know is that if I look at the OPM job site there are lots of degree-required low income jobs that outside the feds would be considered professional.

I would imagine anything that requires a college degree is professional. 

The " Technical, Clerical, Other" category seems fishy.  How is clerical different than "Administrative" which seems to be its own category? But either way, even if you take the technical category to be high paying thats still about 50% or the federal work force is in a professional or otherwise high paying position.  The average is still 87k.  Id love to see the median. 

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #89 on: September 28, 2017, 03:50:29 PM »
I agree that GS15 is high, but its still pretty good from GS13 on up.  Re the pay freezes, they still got COLAS, and spot bonuses, and average middle class wages haven't grown much either.  So that seems appropriate.

GS 13 through 15 are about 20% of the federal workforce.  If your claim is that the top quintile is better paid than everyone else, I can't really disagree with that.  That is true for any arbitrary number.

No, feds did not get a COLA in 3 of the past 8 years.  You are mistaken. 

Bonuses? What are bonuses?  As a general rule, federal employees do not get bonuses.  Also no profit sharing, Christmas party, or free office coffee.

Middle class wages are up 5.2% this year, according to the federal employees at the census bureau.  The federal pay raise was 1%.  Inflation was 1.3%.

Quote
Im not sure what's dishonest, except your 4.4% claim

The bipartisan budget act of 2013 raised the federal employee pension contribution from 3.1 to 4.4% for all employees hired after 12/31/13, and every employees going forward from here.  Trump is backing the GOP proposal to raise that to 10.4%.

So at 4.4%, my wife would pay about $6500 over 30 years to collect $50k a year for as long as she lived, assuming her salary remained static.  Her total contributions would be ~$195k.  It would take her 4 years to break even and then pure profit from there on out.  The worker making $80k a year would about $3500 a year, which after 30 years amounts to ~$105k.  The pension would be $24k a year.  Takes a little over 4 years to break even.  I know, the horror.  And, some federal workers get more than 1% times years of service.

While FERS is well funded the CSRS system is not. 

Again, my point is when you take the salary, pension, health care, time off, TSP, work life balance, etc, federal employees are paid ok.  Could some make more in the private sector?  Probably. They'd be working a lot harder for it though.

$6500 invested annually over 30 years is 450k at a 5% ROR. Suppose the government matches that, and it's 900k in a pot. Retire at 60 and 18 years of payments... What is the average life expectancy?

Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-5 or GS-6 with a Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $39k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.

Yeah I tell her if she ever wants to leave that's the minimum she should accept.  And she'd have to work like 1000 more hours a year. 

This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me. 


I think those stats are wrong. CSRS ended in 1987 and all future employees were placed under FERS. So unless 85% of federal employees are 50+ years old (and the source says the average age is 47), this cannot be right. Further down it states Retirement Plan - 4.2% Civil Service Retirement, 91.53% Federal Employees Retirement System.

I agree something seems off.  But it is the OPM's own webpage....quality government results at work.....

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #90 on: September 28, 2017, 04:05:28 PM »
Sol, thank you for pointing out what feds have to pay in.  Starguru, how much does your wife make? I'm not seeing the math work out on my end.  I'm assuming a $75,000 salary, 1% is $750, multiplied by thirty years of service, she would get $22,500/year in pension.  If she lived another 30 years (most people don't) she would have received $675,000 from her pension.

She is making about 150k in the DC area as an attorney in the federal government.
Your wife is a long term high ranking GS15 working in a very HCOL area who's pay should be comparable to a private sector Atty making at least 3x more. A new hire mid-level GS-5 or GS-6 with a Bachelor's degree starts at $31k and $39k depending on any state COLA.  I'm not a Fed (except former armed forces) but a former state employee who's benefita and pay are much better than the Feds. Even then I still would have earned much more in the private sector if there was a similar job available (wasn't really but similar degree holder with so.ilair experience made a ton more). I personally feel that the average mid level feds are under paid.

Yeah I tell her if she ever wants to leave that's the minimum she should accept.  And she'd have to work like 1000 more hours a year. 

This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me.
I don't know how the Feds break down "professional" vs. "Other" jobs. I imagine someone like a engineer would be considered other or technical even though they have a degree and professional license. Lots of non- PhD scientist are considered Techs or other. Probably the same for many jobs. Law enforcement, compliance, regulatory type jobs that require degrees are probably "other" rather than professional. All I know is that if I look at the OPM job site there are lots of degree-required low income jobs that outside the feds would be considered professional.

As for my state job pension I had to pay in 7%.

Engineers and Scientists are in the "Technical" section.  Professional means medical, dental, pharmacological or law degree (or similar)

The majority of Engineers in the US do not have a professional license.  Only some consultants that consult for governments, Civil Engineers working for a govt, and Mechanical/structural engineers who are involved in building design will have a PE license (for the most part - I don't know about EEs working for the power company).

All those guys working for Apple (both Software Engineers and the Electrical Engineers), the automakers (Ford, GM, Toyota) and a bunch of other companies do not have a PE.  I'd be surprised if they even had an EIT certificate.

spartana

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #91 on: September 28, 2017, 04:07:50 PM »
I don't know how the Feds break down "professional" vs. "Other" jobs. I imagine someone like a engineer would be considered other or technical even though they have a degree and professional license. Lots of non- PhD scientist are considered Techs or other. Probably the same for many jobs. Law enforcement, compliance, regulatory type jobs that require degrees are probably "other" rather than professional. All I know is that if I look at the OPM job site there are lots of degree-required low income jobs that outside the feds would be considered professional.

I would imagine anything that requires a college degree is professional. 

The " Technical, Clerical, Other" category seems fishy.  How is clerical different than "Administrative" which seems to be its own category? But either way, even if you take the technical category to be high paying thats still about 50% or the federal work force is in a professional or otherwise high paying position.  The average is still 87k.  Id love to see the median.
this is a break down according to the feds. I think many nonprofessional jobs would require degrees. Even advanced degrees. Median pay 2014) per category listed in website:


Administrative. According to OPM, nearly 40 percent of federal workers are in administrative occupations. These workers may handle payroll, train new employees, and develop standard operating procedures. This group includes human resources specialists, accountants, and logisticians.

Professional. Workers in professional occupations may analyze policy, develop budgets, and provide healthcare services. These occupations include lawyers, financial managers, and registered nurses.

Technical. These workers may design buildings, test consumer products, and control the spread of disease. Examples include chemists, mechanical engineers, and computer network administrators.

Blue collar. Blue-collar employees may maintain heating and cooling systems, clean offices, and construct buildings. Occupations include janitors, sheet metal workers, and painters.

Clerical. Workers in clerical occupations do office tasks such as data entry, filing documents, and answering the phone. Examples include information clerks, secretaries, and office clerks.

Other. Workers who have tasks that do not fit neatly with those in another group are in “other” occupations. These occupations include firefighters, detectives, and correctional officers.
https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/article/mobile/federal-work-part-1.htm
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 04:20:44 PM by spartana »
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Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #92 on: September 28, 2017, 04:09:02 PM »
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Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich.  Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars, on top of the excellent TSP, excellent health care, excellent time off, excellent work life balance.  In 3 years time my wife will get a full day (in addition to sick time) off every two weeks.  That accrues without limit.  It's not unheard of for people to retire from the government and get 12-24 months of pay as a parting gift.

I would easily try to get a federal job if I could stand the shit-show that software development is at the federal level.  I'm not making it up; I've seen it first hand, it's just awful. 

Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.
Pretty much everyone at my former job retires at a GS-15 or above.  I mean, I suppose some don't make it past a 14?  But I doubt it.  I remember attending the retirement party 20 years ago of someone who was there 40 years.  He did, quite literally, get paid for 2 years after because of accrued vacation and sick time.

I am sometime jealous, but really don't want to deal with DC traffic anymore, one of the reasons I left 20 years ago.

GS-15 or above?  So you mean to tell me that everyone becomes a manager or is in the SES at your old workplace?  I would have never guessed that such was possible.

Our workforce of 9,000 Attorneys, Engineers, Scientists has very few that ever reach GS-15 and maybe 40 total SES???
Achieving GS-14 is reasonable in our agency, but not easy.  However, it isn't competitive either (everyone can get a GS-14 slot if they are willing to go through the 2 years of hell to get there).

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #93 on: September 28, 2017, 04:12:12 PM »
This is interesting.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/profile-of-federal-civilian-non-postal-employees/

From that

85.67% covered under CSRS
90.66% White-Collar (27.01% Professional, 37.29% Administrative, 26.35% Technical, Clerical, Other), 9.34% Blue-Collar
$82,709 average salary adjusted for locality

so just 27% of federal workers are "professional", which I take to mean lawyers or doctors or similar.  Im curious what "technical, clerical, other" means.  But given that only 27% are professional I am actually surprised the average is 87k, including benefits.  Seems pretty good to me.

I'm not actually sure how that's even possible. I'm a GS-12 in the Los Angeles locality which I believe is the highest locality in the nation. From what I understand, outside of DC, most people never even make it to the GS-12 level. The lowest pay for GS-12 in Los Angeles is $81,319.

Explaining it away by people being long tenured doesn't work, because GS-11 is the where you can finally get above $82k with step increases, and that's at step 8.

So unless we've got a bunch of administrative people in the federal government at the GS-11+ level (edit: Also missed where it says average grade is 10, so now I'm even more confused), who have been in service for 20+ years (15 years to get to step 8), $82k as an average seems so out of whack. The other option I guess is that we have WAY more SES's than I originally though; so many that it skews that average in a drastic way.

Edit: Oh, and I also noticed it says only 51% have a bachelor's degree. I'm suddenly starting to feel significantly underpaid.

LA is not the highest locality.  San Jose / San Francisco would be.

Because of my classification, I am on a special pay table that is actually higher pay than the LA locality GS table (I don't have my pay adjusted by locality table).

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #94 on: September 28, 2017, 04:21:37 PM »
Quote
Anyone who believes federal employees are overpaid is welcome to seek federal employment.  DC is a cesspool because of all the private money seeking to corrupt our federal workforce, and honestly I'm surprised we don't routinely see examples of graft and corruption in DC given how underpaid those people are.  There is a reason we have (well, HAD before Trump) restrictions on the revolving door between federal and lobbyist jobs.

We are arguing over a subjective measure, but I'll maintain that the benefits package is pretty rich.  Like I said in my earlier post, a federal pension for GS15 or higher employees is worth *millions* of dollars, on top of the excellent TSP, excellent health care, excellent time off, excellent work life balance.  In 3 years time my wife will get a full day (in addition to sick time) off every two weeks.  That accrues without limit.  It's not unheard of for people to retire from the government and get 12-24 months of pay as a parting gift.

I would easily try to get a federal job if I could stand the shit-show that software development is at the federal level.  I'm not making it up; I've seen it first hand, it's just awful. 

Edit, I just read the federal employees are now capped on their annual leave accrual.  Never mind about that part.
Pretty much everyone at my former job retires at a GS-15 or above.  I mean, I suppose some don't make it past a 14?  But I doubt it.  I remember attending the retirement party 20 years ago of someone who was there 40 years.  He did, quite literally, get paid for 2 years after because of accrued vacation and sick time.

I am sometime jealous, but really don't want to deal with DC traffic anymore, one of the reasons I left 20 years ago.

GS-15 or above?  So you mean to tell me that everyone becomes a manager or is in the SES at your old workplace?  I would have never guessed that such was possible.

Our workforce of 9,000 Attorneys, Engineers, Scientists has very few that ever reach GS-15 and maybe 40 total SES???
Achieving GS-14 is reasonable in our agency, but not easy.  However, it isn't competitive either (everyone can get a GS-14 slot if they are willing to go through the 2 years of hell to get there).

Yes, GS-14 is definitely achievable with time if you maintain a consistently productive, high-quality research program in the biological sciences, but GS-15 is much tougher. 

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #95 on: September 28, 2017, 04:38:00 PM »
My cost center has a single GS-15 overseeing our area, supervising approximately 100 people.  Then there are only four 14s below that.

GS-11 is eventually available to almost anyone who puts in enough years and is good at their job.  12 and above requires a PhD or management of large teams of people, like a regional office. 

The notion that an entire office would be 15s seems ludicrous to me.  I know the grades vary between agencies, and there does appear to be some grade inflation in DC due to those folks all working on national programs, but an entire office of the most senior feds possible?  She must be an agency level lawyer, as that's basically the only GS job where folks routinely rise that high, and there it is only in an attempt to make their pay more competitive with their private sector counterparts.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #96 on: September 28, 2017, 04:57:32 PM »
My cost center has a single GS-15 overseeing our area, supervising approximately 100 people.  Then there are only four 14s below that.

GS-11 is eventually available to almost anyone who puts in enough years and is good at their job.  12 and above requires a PhD or management of large teams of people, like a regional office. 

The notion that an entire office would be 15s seems ludicrous to me.  I know the grades vary between agencies, and there does appear to be some grade inflation in DC due to those folks all working on national programs, but an entire office of the most senior feds possible?  She must be an agency level lawyer, as that's basically the only GS job where folks routinely rise that high, and there it is only in an attempt to make their pay more competitive with their private sector counterparts.

I believe you, and that is completely different from what is going in DC, at least as far as I can see.  a PhD for 12?  That's insane.  I just clarified with her and DW says all the "seasoned" attorneys in her office are GS15s.  She is not an agency level, just a (very-good and respected) lawyer who is known to get shit done.

simonsez

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #97 on: September 28, 2017, 05:13:25 PM »
In general, I wish we could have regular discourse about all the jobs feds have and services they provide without having to be defensive all the time but alas.  Hell I didn't even know my agency did anything other than its eponymous task before I started working there and I was *in* the field so to speak during grad school.

It seems something happened a few decades ago, maybe it was Vietnam, but there was a transition from the good, government that citizens trusted and had positive press to the huge evil machine that quietly goes about its business while taking a beating from politicians and most of the citizenry and perks up every now and then to protect what it can.

I'm one of those technical feds.  We've seen it with response rates on surveys.  Households, institutions, whatever response unit - used to take it as a badge of honor to fill out voluntary federal surveys (we have required ones too but I'm just talking the optional ones) if it meant it could help a researcher or policymaker somewhere down the line.  It was a civic duty.  We had voluntary response rates of 98%, 99% regularly for every cycle.  About 10 years ago, our rates had slowly fallen but were still in the low 90s or high 80s and quality was good.  Now though we're fighting to get to 70% and paying a LOT more in the process.  People generally mistrust the federal government more so it seems and partially as a result, the services provided are less efficient.

As for DC, I think comparisons tend to suffer from selection bias.  You have many agency HQs so naturally they are more top heavy (with prof, tech, admin, etc.) than corresponding field offices (which would have a higher proportion of clerks, etc.) located elsewhere around the country.

spartana

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #98 on: September 28, 2017, 06:23:56 PM »
My cost center has a single GS-15 overseeing our area, supervising approximately 100 people.  Then there are only four 14s below that.

GS-11 is eventually available to almost anyone who puts in enough years and is good at their job.  12 and above requires a PhD or management of large teams of people, like a regional office. 

The notion that an entire office would be 15s seems ludicrous to me.  I know the grades vary between agencies, and there does appear to be some grade inflation in DC due to those folks all working on national programs, but an entire office of the most senior feds possible?  She must be an agency level lawyer, as that's basically the only GS job where folks routinely rise that high, and there it is only in an attempt to make their pay more competitive with their private sector counterparts.

I believe you, and that is completely different from what is going in DC, at least as far as I can see.  a PhD for 12?  That's insane.  I just clarified with her and DW says all the "seasoned" attorneys in her office are GS15s.  She is not an agency level, just a (very-good and respected) lawyer who is known to get shit done.
.  From the same website I linked above. 2014 data:

 Table 3: Typical education required and starting salary, by selected GS level
GS level   Education level   Starting salary, 2014
GS-1
No high school diploma   $17,981
GS-3
High school diploma   22,058
GS-4
Associate's degree   24,763
GS-5
Bachelor's degree   27,705
GS-9
Master's degree   41,979
GS-11
Doctoral or professional degree   50,790
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management
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starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #99 on: September 28, 2017, 06:54:15 PM »
My cost center has a single GS-15 overseeing our area, supervising approximately 100 people.  Then there are only four 14s below that.

GS-11 is eventually available to almost anyone who puts in enough years and is good at their job.  12 and above requires a PhD or management of large teams of people, like a regional office. 

The notion that an entire office would be 15s seems ludicrous to me.  I know the grades vary between agencies, and there does appear to be some grade inflation in DC due to those folks all working on national programs, but an entire office of the most senior feds possible?  She must be an agency level lawyer, as that's basically the only GS job where folks routinely rise that high, and there it is only in an attempt to make their pay more competitive with their private sector counterparts.

I believe you, and that is completely different from what is going in DC, at least as far as I can see.  a PhD for 12?  That's insane.  I just clarified with her and DW says all the "seasoned" attorneys in her office are GS15s.  She is not an agency level, just a (very-good and respected) lawyer who is known to get shit done.
.  From the same website I linked above. 2014 data:

 Table 3: Typical education required and starting salary, by selected GS level
GS level   Education level   Starting salary, 2014
GS-1
No high school diploma   $17,981
GS-3
High school diploma   22,058
GS-4
Associate's degree   24,763
GS-5
Bachelor's degree   27,705
GS-9
Master's degree   41,979
GS-11
Doctoral or professional degree   50,790
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Why are there even grades above 11 then if a Phd or professional is supposed to cap at 11?