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Old 11-30-2010, 12:41 PM   #41
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So the acid test is do they end up spending the same or less total $ over the next two years. Based on the step comments, I'd bet not.

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Old 11-30-2010, 12:41 PM   #42
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I guess the underlying assumption is that nothing the federal government is now doing could be done more efficiently. I wouldn't enjoy trying to defend that position.
The government should not be doing the road building or trash collecting of water supplying or sewage... business.
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:45 PM   #43
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So the acid test is do they end up spending the same or less total $ over the next two years. Based on the step comments, I'd bet not.

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The 'acid test' is that stuff needs to be done. And we have to figure out how to get such stuff done as efficiently & economically & as allowing most human rights as possible.
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:58 PM   #44
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The government should not be doing the road building or trash collecting of water supplying or sewage... business.
Not sure exactly what you mean Khan.......

Here in Chicagoland, trash collecting is done by private firms in most of the suburbs. One man to a truck, well paid, but a hustling, tough job. In Chicago, I believe it's still four men per truck with a "supervisor" following along in his car.

Road building is done by private firms. Road maintenance is done by a mix of private and public employees, depending on the township. In Chicago, maintenance is done by city workers. Usually six patronage employees watching one college student summer employee do all the work.

In this area water and sewer all all public. The Chicago Water Dept and its facilities are pretty impressive. Seems entirely different than the Chicago Bureau of Streets and Sanitation.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:00 PM   #45
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And we have to figure out how to get such stuff done ... as allowing most human rights as possible.
Apply that to Megacorp as well as public employment and I might be with you. But when the rest of us keep getting a worse deal year after year, the deal (and the insulation from private sector economic realities) much of the public sector expects is less sustainable.

The public sector deal can not be sustained and promised to new generations and new hires unless the private sector deal stops getting worse.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:20 PM   #46
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The 'acid test' is that stuff needs to be done. And we have to figure out how to get such stuff done as efficiently & economically & as allowing most human rights as possible.
No, that is a different test (I'll address in a moment). This is being 'sold' as cost savings. And the implication is that wages will be frozen, thus a static payroll. So the acid test of cost savings is did the total cost stay the same or decrease. If it didn't it wasn't a savings, was it? It might be a 'less of an increase' kind of savings, but I don't think those are the words that come out of their mouths.

As far as getting stuff done, I don't think we know what is required to be as' efficient and economical as possible'. But something tells me that giving raises over and above the private sector in a time of high unemployment is not required. If someone can't work just as efficiently on last year's pay, I'm sure some unemployed person would be glad to take their spot. And that sounds pretty humane to me - why shouldn't the (qualified) person with the biggest need (and therefore generally the highest motivation) get the job?

I've had my salary frozen in bad times (Mega-Corp wide). No one went on a work slowdown, and if they didn't like it they were free to look elsewhere. One of our competitors had a 10% pay cut rather than a freeze - I guess they could send their resume there.

Sorry, I'm getting a bit worked up so don't take it personal Kahn, but whenever I hear people say that a business or government should pay a "humane" wage, or do this or that, I just want to say they should start their own business and pay whatever wage they feel appropriate. No one is stopping them (applies to forums w/o ads too )


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Old 11-30-2010, 01:38 PM   #47
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I'd rather not screw existing Federal employees or engage in mass layoffs, but where feasible I do like the "2 for 3" approach for new hires: For every three federal employees lost through attrition or retirement, hire two replacements. If that creates workloads that lead to excessive attrition, then revisit the situation. If it doesn't significantly increase attrition or the "burn rate," then there were probably too many employees to begin with.
Most of the job cuts could come from simply not hiring to fill positions vacated, with large #s of federal employees eligible to retire, it would be pretty painless.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:42 PM   #48
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Most of the job cuts could come from simply not hiring to fill positions vacated, with large #s of federal employees eligible to retire, it would be pretty painless.
Then what functions should be discontinued?

I maintained computer programs that tracked USAF inventory.

Should that function be discontinued?
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:46 PM   #49
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This is a purely political play by Obama. Since most people's math skills are poor, most people won't realize that it amounts to essentially nothing from a budgetary point of view. I suspect it only applies to COLA and automatic step increases will likely still occur.

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$2B doesn't put much of a dent in the $1.3T deficit. And I have to think that preemptive, unilateral, concessions like this will actually make a real bi-partisan deal on the budget a bit harder. If you concede all the things you're willing to give up before you even get to the bargaining table, there is nothing left to bargain over. This seems like a pretty boneheaded, and ultimately counterproductive, tactical move.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:50 PM   #50
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Most of the job cuts could come from simply not hiring to fill positions vacated, with large #s of federal employees eligible to retire, it would be pretty painless.
I don't think one size can fit all functions and all departments. The "2 for 3" I mentioned would be a general goal with the understanding that some departments and functions might shrink more than that and some may not shrink at all. And to some degree there might also be interdepartmental transfer opportunities to assist in the overall "rightsizing" of the federal work force. But I think private sector experience has proven that the same amount of work can be done with fewer employees (within reasonable limits as I describe below).

Note also that "2 for 3" does not mean shrinking the work force by 33%. It merely means slowly reducing the size through attrition until the work can no longer get completed within reasonable expectations on the remaining workers.

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Then what functions should be discontinued?

I maintained computer programs that tracked USAF inventory.

Should that function be discontinued?
I don't think there was a reference to "discontinuing" anything. I've also been a programmer for a long time, and when we endured layoffs and staffing cuts we didn't discontinue any of the work -- we all had to do more of it, working longer and harder than before by picking up additional responsibilities. That's been the private sector SOP for 15-20 years now as I've seen it.

Having said that, there should be some limit at which people can not readily endure having more work thrown at them (with frozen/cut pay and slashed benefits) and a point at which it becomes abusive and inhumane. The private sector seems intent on testing this limit and perhaps even using high unemployment as an excuse to bust through it. Indeed, as long as the response to getting screwed is "at least I still have a job," the shafting won't stop as it shows people will continue to put up with working more and getting less for it -- and the "race to the bottom" is well underway.

I can certainly understand why those in public sector employment want no part of that shafting, but unless the current trends change for the rest of us there will be no way to continue buffering the public sector from private sector economic reality -- which for some was the main reason they chose (or chose to stay in) government work.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:22 PM   #51
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Then what functions should be discontinued?

I maintained computer programs that tracked USAF inventory.

Should that function be discontinued?
There's a very good chance that "maintain computer programs" function is already being done by contractors/outsourced today.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:31 PM   #52
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The big scam going on since Reagan is to replace federal employees with civilian contractors (usually former Mil & Civ & relatives) which actually costs more money and leaves less oversight.

You think there should be fewer federal employees? Great, let's work on it and see what services you want cut.
You think contracting out the functions to the buddies of congresscritters and laying on several layers of sub-contractors and profits and non-accountability is somehow an improvement?
Do you really want USAF inventory (my career) sub-sub-sub-contracted to someone in Beijing?
I think that the Federal government workforce could be cut by 10% and not a single function be eliminated. I don't think long-term contracting out of services is the answer, because you are quite correct about that. If the government agency is empowered to manage their personnel resources to accomplish their mission, they can accomplish it with much fewer personnel.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:36 PM   #53
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I don't think long-term contracting out of services is the answer, because you are quite correct about that.
What this leads to was similar to what I saw when I worked in aerospace. A lot of the guys (and they were all guys at the time) were retired military who worked another 15-20 years for the Megacorp before retiring from there (with two pensions and health insurance) and earning $60-75 an hour with the aerospace company as a contractor -- and billing the government for all of it and then some. And this was in the late 1980s into the 1990s.

It just feels like a scam even if it's totally legal.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:29 PM   #54
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What this leads to was similar to what I saw when I worked in aerospace. A lot of the guys (and they were all guys at the time) were retired military who worked another 15-20 years for the Megacorp before retiring from there (with two pensions and health insurance) and earning $60-75 an hour with the aerospace company as a contractor -- and billing the government for all of it and then some. And this was in the late 1980s into the 1990s.

It just feels like a scam even if it's totally legal.
Yes, many retired General/Flag Officers are now highly paid contractors. Post Office even finds it necessary to hire retired postal workers as consultants...give me a break.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:33 PM   #55
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We go back and forth on the "GS vs Contractor" pendulum about every 15 years. At some point people notice that there are a lot of contractors around ("these hogs are at the trough everywhere! They make about twice the hourly rate of GS folks, plus the overhead to their company!) and contractors are replaced by GS personnel. Then, someone does the math and figures out that a GS earning $75K per year costs the taxpayers more than a contractor earning $100K due to the unrealized pension costs, etc (which his agency also doesn't pay in the current year). So, there's a big push to convert functions to contractors. A few years later the cycle repeats.

The good news is that every time this happens, both ways, the leaders get to claim that they saved taxpayers a bunch of money.

One thing is for sure--there's a lot more flexibiilty with contractors. Just cut the money and they are gone--one worker or 500 workers. On an individual basis, if a guy isn't working out (or even working), then one word to the guy's company from the responsible government person is all it takes and he's gone. It's much harder to do that with the WG/GS/GG/SES/SIS workforce.
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:57 PM   #56
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Merry Christmas!
Yes, poor babies. Nothing but coal in their stockings this year.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:24 PM   #57
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Merry Christmas!
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Yes, poor babies. Nothing but coal in their stockings this year.
Yep, though they should be able to buy presents with the money they saved from raises the past couple years, while many private employees got no raise or got a cut.

Let them eat cake, indeed!

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Old 11-30-2010, 09:18 PM   #58
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Then what functions should be discontinued?

I maintained computer programs that tracked USAF inventory.

Should that function be discontinued?
Can't speak for all agencies but where I worked in the Army I would guesstimate there is at least 20% dead weight in the workforce (both government and contractors). Getting rid of those workers would have little impact on getting the job done. I would imagine most supervisors would welcome the initial workforce cuts as long as they could hand pick those cuts (not likely to happen).

There are plenty of non-personnel cuts that need to be made. Every time a 'Change of Command' takes place we all dread the new 'pet' projects that will be started by the new commander trying to leave his/her mark during their 2 year visit. Usually resulting in previous 'pet' projects going unfinished and pushed to the side. Could go on and on about waste.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:27 PM   #59
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One thing is for sure--there's a lot more flexibiilty with contractors. Just cut the money and they are gone--one worker or 500 workers. On an individual basis, if a guy isn't working out (or even working), then one word to the guy's company from the responsible government person is all it takes and he's gone. It's much harder to do that with the WG/GS/GG/SES/SIS workforce.
I'm glad you chimed in with that-- I'd say "outsource 'em all".

The USAF inventory job might go to China, but if it did they'd probably subcontract it to Vietnam... who might find a good subcontractor in Pyongyang...
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:29 PM   #60
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About 6 years ago, I ran a computer department for a county elected official. I had four programmers. I visited the office a month or so ago, and noticed that there were now 9 or 10 programmers doing the same job. We had one web specialist, they now have three. We had two database managers they not have four. I don't have a clue what the other two would do. Could this department be shrunk? My guess is yes, however, I'll bet no one in the department thinks this is possible.
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