Pay Cuts Aren't Enough: Time to Lay Off Federal Workers

Recently, USA Today highlighted how the salaries of federal employees have skyrocketed in the past five years. According to the article (“More federal workers’ pay tops $150,000”), federal workers earning $150,000 or more in 2005 comprised only 0.4 percent of all federal employees. Today, that number has grown to 3.9 percent. In response to this, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is calling for not only a pay freeze, but a ten percent pay cut for federal employees.

Congressman Chaffetz’s proposal fails to truly tackle the issue of fixing the amount the government spends on the salaries of its employees. Realistically, Congress won’t vote for a ten percent cut to salaries, and there is slim chance that they will allow a pay freeze. Even if these were enacted, the annual COLA (cost of living adjustment) would still increase salaries and spending.

Were Chaffetz truly serious about reining in spending in this area, he would put forward a proposal that did not cut the wages of federal workers, but the positions themselves. Government agencies are overstaffed -- every agency is riddled with redundant employees.

For example: via a source who prefers to not be named, one particular government office employs fifteen people whose sole job is to scan and upload documents to a central database. They are paid to work for eight hours, but generally need to put in only two hours of actual work. The other six hours are devoted to shopping online, gossip, and sleep.

Reduce that department from fifteen employees to five, and they would each have a full day's work and the taxpayer would have his or her money back.

This is not unique to this one office -- overstaffing is a systemic problem. Agencies create positions, often at high cost, that have the single purpose of performing the functions that existing employees could easily take on. A source tells me of a federal employee who does nothing but schedule who will use the conference room.