OPM Director Berry furious over federal pay editorial
OPM Director John Berry
Dorothy Ramienski | Internet Editor | FederalNewsRadio
March 15, 2010
Throughout the week, Federal News Radio has been covering the debate over federal employee pay.
From an analysis in USA Today on Monday, to a rebuttal from the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Thursday, there is a lot of anger on both sides of the issue.
Last Friday, The Washington Times printed an editorial, The Federal Bonus Bonanza.
John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, said there are glaring errors in the piece.
“The first line in the editorial says that the federal government is growing during this [economic] downturn and it’s a cause for alarm. . . . That’s what the editorial says, here are the facts. There will be 2.1 million full time federal employees in this year. That is less than there were in the federal government when Lyndon Johnson was president in 1967. If you compare the growth in the size of our country, there are over 100 million more Americans today that those workers are serving.”
Berry said the government currently has fewer workers handling more work compared to 40 years ago.
He also said it is important to remember that more than half of federal employees work for the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I would ask The Washington Times which of those they would like to cut. Do they want to compromise our national security, our care for our veterans or the protection of our people against terrorism? I don’t.”
Berry said he is extremely upset about a part of the article that implied that federal employees do little other than sit at their desks all day.
“When I heard that and I read that — it just steams me. Do they think that the researchers at NIH who are developing cures for cancer today are bureaucrats sitting at their desks? Do they think the TSA employees who are screening people who are sitting next to you on the airplane today — are they just sitting at their desks? Are the Customs and Border Patrol officers that are screening tractor trailers coming over our borders that might carry a nuclear device — are they just sitting at their desks? This is the kind of stuff that is just a denegation of public service and there should be no place for it in our country.”
He added that there are federal civilian workers who are putting their lives on the line every day, in addition to members of the military, “Over 2,000 civil servants — not in the military — these are civil servants — have given their lives just since 1996 alone. That’s the ultimate sacrifice.”