You get a life in government

I agree with Ira Hobbs' conclusion in his Of The People column, 'Surprise: Pay alone won't recruit or retain IT workers' [GCN, April 30, Page 45]. Federal information technology workers want to be valued as people, as well as employees.

But I take serious issue with his blithe comment about family-friendly benefits and flexible work schedules amounting to 'motherhood-and-apple pie items that, unfortunately, government too often lacks.'

Sorry Ira, but I agree with the National Academy of Public Administration that these nonpay benefits can close the gap with industry. The trick is comparing more than just a lump sum salary.

I work at the Agriculture Department, too. I'm forbidden to work more than 80 hours in a two-week period. This rule forces my employer to make hard staffing and scheduling decisions and to essentially offer a flexible work schedule.

My peers in industry may make higher salaries than I do, but if you calculate the dollars per hour, I'm way ahead. And if I need more money for some reason, I'm usually better off getting another part-time job than I am jumping into industry and working 50 to 60 hours a week.

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Plus, don't forget the holidays I'm forbidden to work and the mandatory vacation time I have to take because I can't carry over more than six weeks from year to year.

When I talk to some of the developers and database administrators I meet at conferences, I discover they may be making $20,000 to $30,000 more than my $65,000, but they're working long days, over the weekends and through holidays'and wondering if they'll ever get a break. The ones that make more than that don't even have time to go to training seminars.

Instead of wondering how I can make those big bucks, I ask my industry peers how much they'd be willing to pay for a three-day weekend every single week; I work four, 10-hour days. Sometimes I mention getting paid for my two hours of volunteer work every week at my kid's school because of the Partnership in Education program, or that Congress is forcing each agency to come up with a teleworking plan. I don't do that too often because I don't want to hurt their feelings.

Some folks need all the money they can get, but many would rather have the time. We can attract those people. How much would you pay for an extra golf game or a hike with your kids or just an extra day every single week of the year?

Comparing the yearly salary makes it seem like industry work is a lot more lucrative than government work. But ask folks to calculate what they make per hour, compare that to the government's per hour rate and see who comes out ahead.

Mike Moxcey

Computer specialist, wildlife services

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Fort Collins, Colo.

Editorial yea, cartoon nay

I liked your editorial, 'Bitter truths' [GCN, April 30, Page 26]. It was right on the mark. In fact, when done properly, outsourcing and seat management can enhance the government's performance of inherently governmental tasks such as policy-setting and management.

By setting up performance-based management controls over outsourcing and seat management contracts, a government manager can reserve his or her time and attention for the top-level issues and delegate lower-level technical and operational tasks to a contractor.

The government manager gains leverage and retains responsibility and accountability.

On the other hand, I didn't much like the OMB Circular A-76 strategy cartoon on that same page. It didn't reflect your balanced view of things.

Bill James

Deputy director, defense

aerospace business

Computer Sciences Corp.

Falls Church, Va.


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