One Conservative/GOP Outcome From Scandalpalooza Should Be Civil Service Reform
Among the many problems brought to light courtesy of Lois Lerner is that it is damn near impossible to fire a federal employee for misconduct.
Statistically speaking, the firing of a federal employee is a rare event. A Cato Institute study showed that in one year, just 1 in 5,000 non-defense, civilian federal employees was fired for cause. A widely cited analysis by USA Today found that in FY 2011, the federal government fired just 11,668 out of 2.1 million employees (excluding military and postal workers). That’s a “separation for cause” rate of 0.55 percent, roughly a fifth the rate in the private sector.
And the firing of employees who fit Lerner’s profile is rarer still. Lerner is very much a “white-collar” employee, and the same analysis found that blue-collar employees (such as food-service workers) were twice as likely to be fired. Lerner is a twelve-year vet at IRS, and before that was associate counsel at the Federal Elections Commission for many years. But fully 60 percent of federal employees fired were in their first two years on the job. Lerner has averaged $185,000 in salary from 2009 to 2012, but only 0.18 percent of federal employees making more than $100,000 were let go for cause. Most relevant of all, Lerner is a lawyer, and just 27 of the government’s 35,000 lawyers lost their jobs in 2011 — six fewer than left federal employment via the Big Sleep.
Civil Service reform and federal employee unions are two issues ripe for the picking. Government workers used to get greater job security in exchange for lower pay. Now they have the best of both worlds and it’s the public who gets the worst of all worlds…lousy service, petty tyrants who are unaccountable to anyone and we have the privilege of paying for it all.
According to the CBO, when it comes to pay, federal workers with the highest education and skill levels are the only cohort who make less than there private sector counterparts in total compensation.
The Republicans could increase pay for high-skilled workers by reducing compensation to private sector levels for low-skilled workers to private sector levels. It might help win some votes in Northern Virginia and at the least create a wedge for Democrats.
As far as reforming the civil service rules themselves, the GOP could have some fun by making FDR their spokesman in the cause.
Civil Service protections and collective bargaining for federal workers don’t prevent the politicization of the bureaucracy, they ensure that it’s near impossible to do anything about it.
The GOP is trying to find some populists issues to run on? Here you go guys. You’re welcome.