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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The FEPCA Story

Victor Davis Hanson has a post at his "Works and Days" blog asking "Where did the Tea Party Anger come from?" I left a comment on one of the sources he mentioned:

RE: “The old idea that a public servant gave up a competitive salary for job security was redefined as hitting the jackpot.”

The story of FEPCA (Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990) may shed some light on this subject.

FEPCA set up the “locality pay” system in which Federal employees in high cost-of-living localities get extra pay to maintain “comparability” with private sector employees in the same area. If you work in the Boston area, you get 24.8% above your base pay. However, there is a “Rest of the US” category for all non-high-cost-of-living areas, and Federal employees in those areas get 14.16% above their base pay. So every Federal employee in the US makes more than the supposed base pay.

FEPCA also scheduled pay increases above cost-of-living. Essentially feds were to get an extra 3% per year for 10 years, with the usual proviso that the President could suspend the increase by declaring a financial emergency. The Clinton administration formally declared the US to be in a state of financial emergency each of the last 7 years of his Presidency, and suspended the FEPCA boost for those years. Not a peep out of the public sector unions.

This suggests that much of the increase in Federal pay is Republican administrations buying off the bureaucracy, where Democrats don’t have to.

Also, Presidents named Bush give feds a lot more extra days off -- the Friday before three-day weekends, for example -- than Clinton did.

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