Civil service employee unions won’t like a new proposal to reduce the billions of dollars taxpayers spend every year on federal bureaucrats’ salaries and benefits.
The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Reform — a 152-page compilation of proposals for the next president’s consideration on reducing the size and cost of the federal government — suggested the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) government should pay, fire and reward employees like the private sector does, FedSmith.com first reported.
The proposals are certain to be rejected by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, because she has proposed multiple expansions of the federal bureaucracy and has strong support among unions.
Donald Trump, who is assured of being nominated by the Republicans assembled this week in Cleveland, has promised to make the federal government work more efficiently and at lower cost, so the Heritage plan would get a serious hearing if the New York billionaire wins the White House.
Aligning public-sector pay with the private sector, making it easier to fire bad employees, nixing automatic pay increases in favor of performance-based pay increases and reducing pension benefits should cut federal workforce costs by 10 percent over the next decade, the report claimed. Heritage analysts estimated that its proposals would save taxpayers $332 billion by 2026.
“The proposals presented here would help to bring federal compensation in line with private-sector compensation,” the report said. “The federal government should have the tools to compete with private-sector employers to recruit and retain valuable employees, but it must also minimize taxpayer costs by not providing excess pay and compensation to federal employees.”
One federal employee union dismissed the report, which is sure to receive criticism from other civil service unions and groups like the Senior Executive Association.
“The report starts with the assumption that federal pay and benefits are overly generous, not in line with the private-sector, and therefore need to be decreased,” Jessica Klement, legislative director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) told FedSmith.com. “This assumption is wholly inaccurate. Most federal jobs lag in pay behind their private sector counterparts.”
But another Heritage study found federal employees receive at least 22 percent more pay than their private-sector counterparts. The American Enterprise Institute estimated feds earn 61 percent more. The Congressional Budget Office reported federal employees earn 16 percent more. (RELATED: Here’s Why It’s All But Impossible To Fire A Fed)
The federal government paid nearly 4.1 million federal employees $462 billion in 2015, and paid retired workers $162 billion in pay and benefits, according to the Heritage report.
Specifically, Heritage suggested the following changes:
- Eliminate automatic pay increases
- Give federal managers larger performance budgets to retain their best workers
- Reduce sick and paid leave days
- Extend workers’ probationary period from one year to three years
- Give employees only one forum to appeal their firing instead of the current three
- Lower the burden to fire federal employees from “a preponderance of evidence” to “substantial evidence”
- Require federal employees with fewer than 25 years’ service to pay more into their retirement
- Eliminate retirement health benefits for new hires
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