Author Topic: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system  (Read 19162 times)

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #50 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 #51 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 #52 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 #53 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 #54 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 #55 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 #56 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.

Scortius

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #57 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.

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #58 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.
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starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #59 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 #60 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 #61 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.
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sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #62 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.
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Slee_stack

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #63 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 #64 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.

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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 #65 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%.

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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%.
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Gondolin

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #66 on: September 28, 2017, 12:43:42 PM »
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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?


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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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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #67 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 #68 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 #69 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%.

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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 #70 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 #71 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 #72 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.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #73 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 #74 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.

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #75 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 #76 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 #77 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 #78 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.....

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #79 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. 

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #80 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 #81 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 #82 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.....

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #83 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 #84 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.
sol will be totally offline for most of June 2018.  You cannot reach me.  You will not hear from me.  I am not dead, just away from civilization.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #85 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 #86 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.

starguru

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #87 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?

wenchsenior

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #88 on: September 28, 2017, 07:13:34 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?

No, I think you can't even apply for Grade 11 jobs without a PhD.

Drifterrider

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #89 on: September 29, 2017, 05:51:05 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.

I'd be willing to bet there are a lot more contractor employees now.  Someone has to do the work.  If it moves from GS to CSS, the government can say they cut staff.  It is smoke and mirrors.  The public loves it so it continues.  Advertising works.

kimmarg

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #90 on: September 29, 2017, 11:55:13 AM »
Ok I didn't read the full thread, but enough. To the OP's original question, yes my office is aware and babbles about changes in retirement benefits. we're pretty much all 'believe it when we see it' folks so it's mostly something to chat about in the break room while microwaving lunch.

As far as Federal pay scale in general, I think I'm slightly overpaid (but I appreciate it!) I just got promoted to GS-12 after 5 years as GS-11. I had to competitively bid against anyone else in the agency (or gov) who was interested in the job. I think people think you get automatic promotions but nope I had to do an interview with my current boss, resume the whole nine yards to move up one grade on station. I'm also in one of those jobs where on slow days you could replace me with an inexperienced GS-5 no problem but then on those really critical days I earn every penny of  GS-12. It's like an ER doc being overpaid for a basic cold that walks in but you're glad to have 'em when its a heart attack!

My biggest complaint about the Feds is that stuff gets mandated from above and no one ever asks the folks on the bottom what we actually want or need to do our job! We're tax payers too we don't like the waste of various stuff but we're told we have to do it from on high.

Oh and for all those saying they should cut 20% congradulations, my agency IS down 20%. The problem is we're not down 20% in administrative or logistical people we're down 20% of front line day to day operations. So they've said we need to do the same thing, the same way we've been doing it, the same hours with less people. Needless to say stuff is slowly slipping between the cracks and tensions are high. I'm sure someone is going to say "good that's how the private sector does it!" but is it really? If they cut stuff would they let you change to a more streamlined operation or keep doing stuff the old way until and act of congress comes along. I'm sure big changes are coming and as an employee and tax payer I don't mind I just want to make sure my voice on the bottom is heard -that's why I'm in a federal union, to try to get my voice heard.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #91 on: September 29, 2017, 01:03:19 PM »
On another site I follow, there is discussion about FERS isn't actually a pension.  Can someone explain it to me? How does it differ from a pension?

sparkytheop

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #92 on: September 29, 2017, 01:35:01 PM »
On another site I follow, there is discussion about FERS isn't actually a pension.  Can someone explain it to me? How does it differ from a pension?

I'd have to see the argument to explain it, I think.

FERS has different "parts".  A pension portion, based on years of service + age + wages.  A 401k type portion (tsp).  A Social Security portion.  Each one is considered a leg of a three legged stool.  The pension is no longer expected to replace the majority of your wages in retirement; you are now expected to use SS and fill in any gaps with money you saved/invested yourself.

So, FERS is not really a pension, but a pension is a portion of FERS. 

kimmarg

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #93 on: September 29, 2017, 06:41:58 PM »
On another site I follow, there is discussion about FERS isn't actually a pension.  Can someone explain it to me? How does it differ from a pension?

I'd have to see the argument to explain it, I think.

FERS has different "parts".  A pension portion, based on years of service + age + wages.  A 401k type portion (tsp).  A Social Security portion.  Each one is considered a leg of a three legged stool.  The pension is no longer expected to replace the majority of your wages in retirement; you are now expected to use SS and fill in any gaps with money you saved/invested yourself.

So, FERS is not really a pension, but a pension is a portion of FERS.

FERS is explained pretty well above. I think the thing many people don't realize is the Federal pension system changed just over 30 years ago. The old system (CSRS) you basically got your entire salary (or very close to) for the rest of your life when you retired. Most people think it is still like that. In FERS your maximum pension is 1% of your years of service (about) so the max is around 30% of your salary. Clearly still a nice pension but also for most non mustacians not enough to live on. (assuming you are a consumer sucka who spends 100% of take home) There is a TSP (aka 401k fund) you can contribute to. Also FERS employees contribute to social security just like most other jobs (CSRS does not). 

You can certainly still have an excellent retirement package if you work for a while and contribute to your TSP, however it's not the same blind years of service as the old system. At this point the only people on the old system have to have worked over 30 years already so could retire but just aren't for whatever reason.

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #94 on: September 29, 2017, 07:45:15 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.


I think you're engaging in a few distortions here.  PG&E provides my power, not the government.  People want safe food, but a lot of it is safe because nobody stays in business poisoning their customers.  Nobody thinks the middle and lower classes get a fair deal from the courts when it costs $300-500/hr to hire a lawyer (an officer of the court) to litigate.  The courts benefit the rich.  No one from the middle and lower classes is ever happy about having to go to court.  The Russians aren't invading, but 30 million people have come up from the Southern border so the military isn't exactly securing it. How many people are in federal prison?  At a state level, prisoners are set free early all the time.  My friend keeps getting his mailbox robbed by some lady the judge keeps letting out of prison.  The last time I was on federal land, I found 2 abandoned pot-growing operations including large water storage tanks and abandoned deep-cell batteries within earshot of a road the federal rangers were supposed to be patrolling.  The Angeles National forest and many others have huge problems of illegal drug cartel operations, dumping, and other things.  The property was not large either.  Sure, our social security checks should arrive early but we're taxed our entire working lives for it.  The local government delivers my water, the Feds controlling the spillways have let a ton of it run into the oceans exacerbating our water shortage.  The National Weather Service and NOAA are admittedly bright spots.  You might blame all the bad government services on the lack of money, but federal spending has increased enormously over the past 100 years.

No one objects to government in the first place.  We object to enormous, invasive, inefficient government - what we have today.  But, hey, it pays your livelihood so I can see why you think it's a great thing.  It's funny because if you are a Mustachian, you relentlessly cut the fat from your own budget but think the federal budget should be spent differently.

I too am waiting for you to substantiate your claim that private sector wages are up 5%.

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #95 on: September 29, 2017, 08:41:51 PM »
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?

There's a list of military technologies that have been re-appropriated for civilian use.  Someone in tech, like me, is definitely aware of many of them.  The thing you'll notice about most of them is that they are all old technologies.  There is not much in the past several decades.  Whatever we were able to accomplish before, we are much less able to accomplish now.  Space travel is an example: we got to the moon in 1965; nowadays we need RUssian rockets to get us to the space station.  The shuttle was an expensive boondoggle that blew up with alarming frequency given the number of missions and the original design criteria.  The shuttle program has now been shut down.

WRT naval technology, I've worked in R&D, testing, and operation of naval weaponry and systems.  Here too, the picture was rosy in the past but far less so now.  Simple systems take decades to get out the door and then don't work or were an expensive solution to a problem that was solved better with old-fashioned means.  Even some of the old-fashioned tech was better for certain applications.  For obvious reasons, I cannot be specific.  I remember the Osprey fiasco.  The JSF is the latest.  We're now buying quite a few foreign systems for our ships now. The rolling airframe missile for antiship missile defense is German.  The Bofors gun on the LCS is Swedish.  Were I in charge of fast jet appropriation, I'd buy Gripens.  The railgun still isn't serviceable as a weapon despite decades of development.  On our ship, we mostly used a civilian radar for surface search.  The standard missile was removed because the last round we fired went over the mast of a nearby destroyer, under the water, back out and over our own masthead. 

I've seen marketing for systems that don't pass basic back-of-the-envelop system design assumptions and no one seems to ask any questions.  It's all about getting the money flowing now, not building stuff that is needed or works.

sol

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #96 on: September 29, 2017, 08:48:50 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.

It's household income that was up 5.2%, not wages.  Data are here, if you're interested.

Or you can read popular press articles about the data, like this one.  Or this one.

Some of those households contain federal employees who got a 1% raise those years, so presumably wage growth was higher among non-federal workers than it was among federal workers.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 08:55:26 PM by sol »
sol will be totally offline for most of June 2018.  You cannot reach me.  You will not hear from me.  I am not dead, just away from civilization.

Lance Burkhart

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #97 on: September 29, 2017, 08:58:48 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.

It's household income that was up 5.2%, not wages.  Data are here, if you're interested.

Or you can read popular press articles about the data, like this one.  Or this one.

Some of those households contain federal employees who got a 1% raise those years, so presumably wage growth was higher among non-federal workers than it was among federal workers.

Oh boy am I glad you gave me that link.  Did you notice the near decade of wage stagnation in the third fifth where the US median household wage sits? 


retired?

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #98 on: September 29, 2017, 09:14:09 PM »
A few non-nasty (I hope) comments:

 - I think any changes should be grandfathered.  People reasonably expect the benefits they were promised.  I do think they often seem overly generous, though.

 - My BIL was in the military for about 24 years.  He retired at 46/47.  I was surprised to learn that his pension, starting immediately, is $5k monthly.  For life.  Not sure about adjustments for inflation.  One valuation using 4% rule would value it at $1.5M.  I'd say more since he'll likely collect for more than 30 years.  Also, just learned that he and my sis get medical for life.....not sure what sort of premium they have to pay if any.  His total comp was probably around 130-140k including salary and allowances (housing alone was about 25k per year).  I don't complain since they dragged him all over the world for a quarter of century.  But, it taint bad dough.

 - A good friend and one of the smartest people I know started working for the Fed a couple years ago.  He could make more in industry, but, according to him, it's low stress and somewhat interesting.  It's not a bad gig for scientists and engineers.  I might encourage a young person to check out the fed for roles like that.

 - I do wonder about people expecting pensions as state employees in places like Illinois, etc. when IL cannot print money like the Fed to cover it's debts.  Some of those people are going to be screwed.

sparkytheop

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Re: Fellow Feds...proposed changes to our retirement system
« Reply #99 on: September 29, 2017, 09:47:37 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.


I think you're engaging in a few distortions here.  PG&E provides my power, not the government.

This will depend on where you live.  If you live in the Northwest (not sure about other regions), there is a chance that a huge portion of your power is provided by the government.  Generated at a hydroelectric dam (most are ran by the DoD (Corps of Engineers), or the Bureau of Reclamation), then that power is sent to a grid ran by BPA (Bonneville Power Administration, also a federal agency), and then it finally reaches the utility company, which distributes it to households.  So, the government is providing the power, the utility just delivers it.

Since the government agencies can't make a profit, the "extra money" is put back into upgrades, maintenance, etc.  Still not a perfect system by any means, but many don't realize that the generation and grid really are federal government ran.