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Old 09-20-2008, 01:10 PM   #21
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youbet--They're trying something similar to what you describe. From almost everything I've heard, it is a miserable failure. The people working under the system are generally not happy. Several federal unions are trying to wean the agencies using the system off of it.
If unions don't like it, it is probably good for the taxpayer.

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:39 PM   #22
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youbet--They're trying something similar to what you describe. From almost everything I've heard, it is a miserable failure. The people working under the system are generally not happy. Several federal unions are trying to wean the agencies using the system off of it.
From the point of view of the unions and established employees, it may appear to be a take-away, but I don't think it's a "miserable failure" in terms of recruiting and retaining qualified people and providing competitive compensation packages. And it's no surprise that unions wouldn't like it. But as long as senior employees are appropriately grandfathered and suffer no harm, I think it will work out. In the instances I've heard about, the ability to offer higher starting salaries to compete for hard-to-recruit skill sets is a huge plus for the municipalities involved.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:44 PM   #23
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i spent 18+ years as a govt employee, Elec Engineer. i knew my salary was way way way below private sector standards for that field ..
How much do you think you can get from the private sector in terms of percentage?

The average salary of an engineer V in Minneapolis, MN is about $114,171. The equivalent position, I guess, would be a GS-13, step 6, the salary of which would be $95,598 (80,065 * (1 + 19.4%) according to 2008 General Schedule Pay Scale.

It's about 19% lower, not way,way lower. The calculation, however, may be way off since an engineer V is actually a lot higher or lower than a GS-13.
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Old 09-20-2008, 02:21 PM   #24
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From the point of view of the unions and established employees, it may appear to be a take-away, but I don't think it's a "miserable failure" in terms of recruiting and retaining qualified people and providing competitive compensation packages. And it's no surprise that unions wouldn't like it. But as long as senior employees are appropriately grandfathered and suffer no harm, I think it will work out. In the instances I've heard about, the ability to offer higher starting salaries to compete for hard-to-recruit skill sets is a huge plus for the municipalities involved.
That's the problem it isn't improving the recruiting or retention. Many people leave the agencies I have knowledge of because of the pay. The system is left up to local management to implement, which sounds good. In typical government fashion everything is run by stats, where only one or two people can receive a decent pay raise (over 3%), the rest enjoy your 0-1% raise. The complaint I hear often is you either receive a decent raise or not much of a raise. Cronyism is alive and receiving good raises often times have excessively close working relationships with the boss. The pay raises aren't staggered down it's either all or nothing.

For the most part I agree with you. If the pay system was implemented fairly and properly then it would be a good system, but that is the problem it isn't being used fairly.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:08 PM   #25
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It is a free country, anyone who thinks this is the way to riches fill out an application.
I have filled out applications many times. No interviews. My background is Mechanical Engineering. If you just factor in the non-payment due to layoffs alone, the government employment is a more lucrative deal.

I commuted on the van pool with air traffic controllers. Now those guys were Wealty. Good benefits, too. I think they get Ground Hogs day off.

All kidding aside, I am just stating that it is a good deal working for the govt vs private sector. Count your blessing guys/gals.

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Old 09-20-2008, 03:16 PM   #26
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Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, State, County, City, Federal Gov. Lots of employers.

I'm not saying you are a great candidate for a Government Job, I do get tired of people telling me how 'Lucky' I am to have a military pension. Most them had the same chance to serve as I did and chose not to. Others chuckled when I took a county job after leaving the military. 'Sucker just think what you could make in the private sector!'

Most are still working!
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:24 PM   #27
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How much do you think you can get from the private sector in terms of percentage?

The average salary of an engineer V in Minneapolis, MN is about $114,171. The equivalent position, I guess, would be a GS-13, step 6, the salary of which would be $95,598 (80,065 * (1 + 19.4%) according to 2008 General Schedule Pay Scale.

It's about 19% lower, not way,way lower. The calculation, however, may be way off since an engineer V is actually a lot higher or lower than a GS-13.
well, let's get some real live numbers out there...it doesn't matter to me cuz i'm FIREd now.

I was a GS-13, step 3 and my gross salary before FIRE was just under $80K. the GS-13 grade, for those who aren't familiar, it is the highest grade just under management grades (14 and above), i.e senior staff grade but not supervisory.

the 2008 GS Pay Schedule is useful as a baseline for new hires, but the locality pay isn't always that great for small towns (see Rest of US rates). Large city workers get premium locality pay to offset the higher cost of living.

in any case, there is a differential between private and govt salary ranges. as with any field, salary ranges are subject to supply and demand for that field and locality.

my contractor friends were in the high $90K to $120K range, with equivalent exp and education.

my salary was just fine, no complaints here. i lucked out because i do live in a relatively low cost area compared to urban areas. as a result, i was able to sock away between 10-18% of salary into my TSP over the years. and that made it possible for me to FIRE.

good discussion BTW.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:27 PM   #28
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Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, State, County, City, Federal Gov. Lots of employers.

I'm not saying you are a great candidate for a Government Job, I do get tired of people telling me how 'Lucky' I am to have a military pension. Most them had the same chance to serve as I did and chose not to. Others chuckled when I took a county job after leaving the military. 'Sucker just think what you could make in the private sector!'

Most are still working!
Your post is a bit of a oxymoron. You're tired of being told you're lucky to have a govt pension yet boast about being RE while the private sector folks are still working......

You are "lucky" or "fortunate" or "things worked out well" or whatever word you wanted to use. I understand that you don't want to hear about it, and I don't blame you for that, but you have a situation most folks would aspire to.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:30 PM   #29
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You are not referring to salary of security guards in the private sector? Their compensation is inferior in comparison to that of a police officer.
You're not seriously going to compare what a security guard does to what a police officer does, are you?

I was thinking more along the lines of a police detective compared to some sort of private sector investigator. Lets say a fraud investigator for an insurance company or something like that. There is no private sector comparison to what a patrol officer does. Not even close.

Also, your comparison of a private sector engineer shows a 19% difference in salary to a govt engineer? Add the govt employees 5-10% pension contributions and throw in whatever a company 401k match is worth and then tell me how much all of that adds up to if the employee invested all of it for 25 years.

My rough caculations tell me that if all of that money was saved / invested it would be in the neighborhood of a million dollars over 25 years which would put the private sector guy in good shape without a pension.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:36 PM   #30
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By the way, I dont mean to sound like Im complaining at all. Im perfectly happy with my situation. I chose to become a police officer after leaving the Army for alot of different reasons and wouldve done it without the great pension I have.

Also, my apologies to the original poster. I apparently misread the reason the thread.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:38 PM   #31
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That's the problem it isn't improving the recruiting or retention.
Obviously, the situation is being mismanaged or there are some other factors coming into play you're not mentioning. If the agency management can offer significantly higher salaries, they should be able to recruit and retain despite reduced pension benefits. At least that's how it seems to be working in the private sector where companies who have eliminated DBP pensions are still able to snap up talent by offering high wages. If the agency you're referring to can't recruit, they need to up starting salaries. If they can't retain, they need to up experienced worker salaries to be competitive.

Again, my point is that we need to pay gov't workers today from taxes collected today. We need to stop offering them future benefits our children will have to pay for. The current system was dreamed up by old-goat politicians who knew they were making promises that they'd never have to keep.......

And we need to have entry and exit from public sector careers unencumbered by "golden handcuffs."
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:53 PM   #32
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It is a free country, anyone who thinks this is the way to riches fill out an application.
Absolutely. We currently have a 19% vacancy rate in all agencies' federal positions in the New Orleans area, according to statistics submitted to OPM this month. This may not be the most desirable, yuppified, prestigious location in the world, but there are federal jobs here. We need warm bodies. I am sure you could get something, though probably not at the pay rate that some may expect, not doing your "dream job" that you prepared all your life to do, and not with the instant seniority without time in the job that others may expect. Also the cost of living here has risen much faster recently than elsewhere.

Come one, come all!

http://www.federaltimes.com/index.php?S=3710401

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Currently federal agencies in New Orleans have an overall 19 percent vacancy rate because the area’s high costs are making it tougher to recruit
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:15 PM   #33
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Govt v private sector -- different but equal?
I've always been a govt contractor. I have many friends in the government and we each see the grass as greener on the other side.

At about age 30, a friend and I went separate ways. She went to work for the govt and I remained a contractor. At first my salary rose a little more than hers. Over time she became SES but my salary was dramatically higher than hers. We had very similar lives and spending patterns.

I "retired" without a pension 2 yrs ago at age 56 but soon started consulting back 3 days a week because the money was outstanding and the project seemed fun and worthwhile. I had to find my own health insurance (200/month for HSA plan).

She retired with a pension 1 year ago with retiree heath insurance.

We continue to have similar spending habits/lifestyle and seem to have come out in much the same position with the exception of her peace of mind over health insurance and an inflation protected pension. But for anyone who isn't as much of a worrier as I am, my savings would more than cover her pension and then some.

Interesting factoid -- we have both used the same hairdresser for the past 30 years. She too has been able to reduce her work days to 3 days per week.
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:15 PM   #34
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I do not consider myself lucky because I choose a career that paid less than my civilian counterparts, let's look at my $60,000 salary when I left the service vs the $120,000 salary for an airline pilot. I choose a career that at best was high risk. I got shot at every day for a year! Maybe lucky to survive to retirement, not lucky that the pension and my lbym afforded me the chance to retire. I also did 20 years in three other fields before I retired and it is the sum of all these jobs that allow me to retire. My retirement for 20 years in the AF is $27,000 take home a year. It is COLA adjusted. I still profess it is not luck, I earned it and and the majority of folks I graduated from college could be in the same boat, however, most did not want to go to Vietnam!

We all make choices. There are folks that have managed there stocks better than I. I don't consider them 'lucky' because they took more risk, knew what they were doing, made some good choices. When you are playing poker and all the odds are against you and you draw the last and only ace that wins the pot, that's luck.

I stand by my earlier post. If you think government jobs are so great, get one. There are lots to go around. I'll bet, however, 'not in my area', 'my wife won't move', 'I don't like that field', 'that does not pay enough for me' and so on, lots of reasons no good excuses.
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Old 09-20-2008, 06:49 PM   #35
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Or we could just all be train operaters for the city of New York and become "disabled" at retirement.

Read this article and I guarantee you will be pissed

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/ny...1&ref=nyregion
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Old 09-20-2008, 06:56 PM   #36
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I think the intention of OP was to point out that the benfit of a nice DBP pension is becoming relatively more valuable as part of a overall compensation package everyday. A decade ago, when many private sector folks had DBP pensions, the comparison between public and private sector compensation packages was a comparison that included differences between the two pensions. Today it's typically a comparison of private = 401k with some sort of match vs public with 403b (or similar) with no match plus a DBP pension. The pendelum has swung heavily towards the public sector package.
Could be. The thing is, if I knew 10-20 years ago what I know today, I would have made different career choices. I think as time goes on and trends in employment and compensation continue, the relative value of the public sector benefits keeps getting higher and higher, thus meaning that the "lower pay" (to the extent that's even true any more) is easily made up by the value of the benefits package -- not to mention any attempts to put a monetary value on job security.

As times get more uncertain, I think we'll continue to see more and more taxpayer backlash with respect to paying higher taxes to "save" pension and retiree medical benefits for other people.
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:14 PM   #37
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If you go to usajobs.com and search all jobs there are currently 50310 jobs available. All are encouraged to apply. I'll admit federal employment has it's benefits but there are many downfalls also.

Like Rustic23 says, I have moved a few times and have done a few years HQ time in DC. Luckily my wife was agreeable. Some of the benefits are good but I definitely am not going to be "rich". I have a good job and hopefully if the politicians don't mess it up a decent retirement plan and health benefits.
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Old 09-20-2008, 08:56 PM   #38
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Times are changing and the private sector is doing away with pensions, they are a rarity these days. The gap is widening between private sector and Government workers and the resentment is growing. Something has to change, my guess is the Feds are going to introduce a new retirement system before long, perhaps something with a higher contribution rate to the TSP and no pension?

I worked in private industry after college for 10 years. I took a Federal job because I liked the work, the job security and the atmosphere (I consulted at this agency while working for Digital Equipment Corp.). I also took a pay cut and benefits cut to take the job. 1.5 years later I was given a promotion which put me back to the same pay rate I was earning in private industry. DEC was bought out a few years after I left and I'll bet very few of my coworkers survived the buyouts (Compaq, HP).

At age 51, I am really glad I made the change. When I took the Government job I could have cared less about the pension and matching TSP contributions as I never thought I'd stay through retirement.

I do think things need to change. If pensions are no longer a part of the private sector, then they probably shouldn't be a part of the Government retirement system.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:21 AM   #39
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Times are changing and the private sector is doing away with pensions, they are a rarity these days. The gap is widening between private sector and Government workers and the resentment is growing.
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.
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I worked in private industry after college for 10 years. I took a Federal job because I liked the work, the job security and the atmosphere (I consulted at this agency while working for Digital Equipment Corp.). I also took a pay cut and benefits cut to take the job. 1.5 years later I was given a promotion which put me back to the same pay rate I was earning in private industry. DEC was bought out a few years after I left and I'll bet very few of my coworkers survived the buyouts (Compaq, HP).
It is not only a question of surviving the buyouts -- those companies you listed have now frozen their pension plan and eliminated retiree medical benefits. For someone who has put in 20-25 years with the expectation of getting those benefits, it's a real blow. I don't see this magnitude of changes happening in the public sector. And after 20-25 years working in private industry, it feels a bit late to "start over" in a federal job.

Helen, I think you made a good choice when you switched over.

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Old 09-21-2008, 06:23 AM   #40
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I'm one of those "lucky" federal employees who migrated from the GS pay plan to the new pay for performance pay plan called NSPS. I'm trying to remain positive, but have yet to receive my first yearly review and payout/raise. That should happen in JAN. From what I can see, the system is designed to save uncle sam money at my expense. But, I'll reserve judgement until JAN...

I think there will be continuing and vocal backlash against federal pensions. I am hoping the system doesn't change much for those of us who are currently in it, otherwise I will have to consider my options.

One of the most distressing part of how my command is implementing NSPS pay raises is the mandatory split between salary increase and bonus. My command is mandating a 70/30 split. Bonus pay does not count toward the TSP match, pension, next years pay raise, etc. I expect a considerable erosion of my base pay, and therefore pension, over the next 14 years.
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