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Have You Been Affected by Furloughs? We Want to Hear From You!

More than 700,000 federal government employees will experience up to a 20 percent pay cut due to forced furloughs. Are you an AFGE member affected by furloughs?  We want to hear from you about how furloughs are affecting your family, your life, and your community. Please click here to share your story with us and have your voices heard. If you would like to submit a photo with you entry please email it to afgecommsquad@gmail.com.

Please be sure to include your name, location, the federal agency you work for and your AFGE local number. So many of our members have shared their experiences and we want to hear from YOU!

Listen Now! Proposed Changes to Federal Employee Pensions, Health Benefits Analyzed on “Inside Government”

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Listen Now!

Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for analysis of proposed changes to federal employees’ pension plans and health benefits. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 19, is now available on demand.

Bob Weiner, former Clinton White House spokesman, lauded the work of federal employees in the face of budget cuts, pay freezes and furloughs. Weiner also detailed sequestration’s harmful effects on cancer research.

AFGE Small Business Administration Council 228 President Elaine Powell-Belnavis then discussed the union’s labor contract agreement with SBA, which covers 2,000 federal employees and provides a range of benefits from an updated awards program to an expedited arbitration process.

Common Cause President and CEO and former Rep. Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania addressed the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) and increase in federal employees’ pension contributions in President Obama’s budget proposal.

Lastly, AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon detailed proposed changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com.

For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com.

Listen Now! Reaction to Obama’s 2014 Budget Plan on “Inside Government”

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Listen Now!

Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for reactions to President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 12, is now available on demand.

AFGE National Council of Social Security Administration Field Operations Locals President Witold Skwierczynski addressed the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) and increase in federal employees’ pension contributions in the president’s budget proposal. Skwierczynski also discussed the status of unresolved articles – appraisals, merit promotions and telework – in the union’s contract agreement with SSA management.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare President and CEO Max Richtman continued the budget conversation, analyzing the chained CPI impact on Social Security benefits for seniors and veterans.

Lastly, AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon detailed proposed changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at FederalNewsRadio.com.

For more information, please visit InsideGovernmentRadio.com.

AFGE DENOUNCES SINGLING OUT OF BORDER PATROL FOR LARGEST SEQUESTRATION HIT

Union says DHS decision will have dire consequences for border security

J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, today issued the following statement on sequestration’s impact on border security:

“On Friday, March 1, hours after he signed the sequester order, President Obama tried to describe to the press the impact of sequester on federal employees, active duty military and their families. He referred to ‘Border Patrol agents in the hot sun getting a 10 percent pay cut…’

“Just as ‘the hot sun’ is hardly the biggest risk Border Patrol agents take while performing their duties, the 10 percent pay cut to which the president referred is only a small portion of the economic pain the Department of Homeland Security has in store for them. In fact, DHS has singled out Border Patrol agents to receive by far the largest financial penalty of any other group of federal workers. The plan DHS has chosen for Border Patrol agents will mean a 35 percent decline in their paychecks for the rest of the fiscal year and beyond.

“Border Patrol agents have been singled out to lose 75 percent more of their paychecks than even civilian Department of Defense workers who face 22 days without pay (for a 20 percent pay cut). Secretary Napolitano has announced that she intends not only to furlough Border Patrol agents for 14 days, but also to impose a total moratorium on routine overtime pay. Together these policies will reduce the paycheck of a typical Border Patrol agent by 35 percent. Even within their own agency, these cuts stand out for lopsidedness and severity. For example, officers who police the ports and provide customs enforcement will be furloughed 14 days but retain overtime; there is every reason to believe that they will make up wages lost to furlough with compensatory overtime so that cargo and passengers will continue to move through ports of entry. But with this anti-Border Patrol policy, illegal “cargo and passengers” will likely flow into the U.S. as well.

“Guarding the border is not a nine-to-five job. Overtime work is routine, and when they are hired, agents are informed that they will almost never work a regular eight-hour shift. Instead, they are expected to work at least 10 hours every day and often more because they do not stop when they are in pursuit of drug and gun smugglers and others engaging in criminal activity on the border. But with the sequester policy DHS has fashioned for Border Patrol, agents will be instructed to stop working at the moment their straight shift ends. Good news for criminals and others who would enter our country illegally; but very bad news for Americans who rely on the courage and devotion of Border Patrol agents who risk their lives every day to keep drugs and guns and gangs outside our borders.

“We urge Secretary Napolitano to rethink this terrible decision. It is wrong for border security, and it is wrong to single out Border Patrol agents for such drastic and undeserved economic pain. Border Patrol agents are law enforcement professionals, and this policy will undermine their ability to carry out their mission to guard the border and protect American citizens. Apart from the inequity in the size of the economic sacrifice being demanded of them, they do not want to let criminal gangs and smugglers go just because their shift has ended. The moratorium on overtime combined with 14 furlough days must be reconsidered.”

AFGE Public Policy Director Appears on Federal News Radio

AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon recently appeared on Federal News Radio to discuss a proposed bill that would extend the pay freeze for federal employees. The bill was rejected by the Senate but is expected to return to the floor.

Listen to the radio interview here.

Click here to learn more about the radio show which originally aired on Jan. 3, 2013.

AFGE URGES CONGRESS TO REJECT PAY FREEZE EXTENSION FOR FEDERAL WORKERS

The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on members of Congress to reject a proposal that would extend the two-year pay freeze on federal employees for another year.

Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year.

“Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.

OPM Director John Berry Discusses Employee Concerns, Fiscal Cliff with National Executive Council

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John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management stopped by AFGE national headquarters this afternoon and addressed several concerns by district and union leaders about fairness towards employees, insubordination, and the looming “fiscal cliff”. The National Executive Council meeting was led by AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. who kept Berry focused on answering lingering concerns by employees that have yet to be adequately addressed. Several newly elected district leaders were also present at the meeting and offered a passionate call to action to both OPM and the Obama Administration as it moves into it’s second term.

With the “fiscal cliff” less than a month away and over $100 million dollars in the legally mandated sequester scheduled to kick in on January 2, 2013, the first priority at the NEC meeting was clear. Berry suggested the issue will be best resolved with the 2014 federal budget as government agencies across the board work out the best possible plan that works for management, employees, and the American people themselves. However, budget talks have been tabled as Congress hashes out a deal. The Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense (in which, half of the planned cuts are to come) are the key players within the government deciding the impact of the sequester, but Berry announced that the ball is really in Congress’ court.

“It’s important to remember that first and foremost a deal is possible; I don’t think we have to worry about this,” said Berry. If a decision is not reached before Christmas or the January deadline, all agencies must submit their plan of action to Congress by the end of January. Reiterating that the sequester is not the same as a government shutdown, Berry suggested that lawmakers will have until the end of that month to come up with an alternative deal.

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“You always have an open door with me,” said Berry at the meeting. President Cox explained, “We want full MSB rights for our members of the TSA.” When asked if he could guarantee that could happen he remarked “a big part of today is, I’m here to listen”, causing a brief chuckle from the members. “Where’s my pen?”, said Berry. With the heads of several locals present, they addressed MSB rights and ULPs.

“We need someone to hold managers accountable as it’s a wasting of taxpayer money if we file ULPs but agencies keep doing same thing,” said National Vice President Arnold R. Scott of District 6.

Berry pledged to address this as well as concerns that President Barack Obama’s executive orders are not being adequately being followed, especially in regards to political appointees attaining longer and permanent positions. Berry reiterated the president’s commitment to his executive orders and said the agency is moving from a reactionary stance on the matter to one that outsmarts the offenders.

“We don’t just send letters, we meet with them at the White House and layout what changes we expect from them,” said Berry. “This has worked in most cases.”

Berry, one of the President’s first openly-gay political appointees, was also questioned over the sharing of benefits between same-sex and domestic partnerships. The OPM Director said that he and President Obama strongly support the idea, but admitted that they are constrained by Congress until there is a change to the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I have a partner who pays 100%  into (his health insurance) and we’ve been together for 16 years and he’s not going anywhere,” Berry said. “I get this issue and I hear about this every night.”

Pressing further, one representative asked, “So for Christmas 2013 then.” Berry, replied “Yes, I hope so.”

As the administration moves into it’s second term there are many changes expected not only in agency leadership, but in how the government is run internally. With a recent report by OPM showing severe declines in morale amongst federal employees across the board, change is urgently needed.

“Let’s wait until the new team is in place before we act,” said Berry. “I would hate to have the ink still wet from a really good deal, before a new team comes in and you have to start from scratch.”

One local president from West Point, countered, keeping Berry and OPM’s feet to the fire.

“Gone are the days of union activists and obstructionists; I think we can do this by sitting down and hashing this out if we’re allowed to,” he said. “But it’s getting pretty darn frustrating.”

You can find more photo’s of today’s meeting on our AFGE Photostream on flickr.

AFGE Rep Wing Recap: November 2012

VA VIOLATES OWN POLICY IN DENYING PROMOTION TO EMPLOYEE
The Veterans Affairs Department violated its own policies when the human resources department denied an employee a promotion that had already been approved by her director, an arbitrator has ruled.
The case involves a Hybrid Title 38 Social Worker who learned in 2011 that she had been denied a promotion to GS-12 back in 2009 after the promotion had been approved by the Professional Standards Board and her director. Despite the approval, a classification specialist in the HR department summarily rejected the promotion on the basis that the Social Worker was doing GS-11 work and didn’t warrant the grade increase.
AFGE Local 1206 filed a grievance on the member’s behalf, alleging that the VA had violated its own handbook and policies, and AFGE Legal Rights Attorney Michael Pazder represented the case at arbitration. The VA Handbook says a director’s decision on a promotion following Board action is final, so HR did not have the right to reverse the decision since it was never brought back to the Board or the director for reconsideration. VA policy also makes clear that Hybrid Title 38 employees can be promoted beyond the full performance level of their position based on their qualifications and experience if so determined by the Board, as was the case here.
The agency refused to correct this when notified, claiming the Board had erred in approving the promotion and that processing an allegedly unwarranted promotion would “unjustly enrich” the employee. Testimony at the hearing revealed that HR personnel, and the director who now said his decision was incorrect even though he never formally reversed it, have an astonishing lack of knowledge of VA policies and how promotions are supposed to work for Hybrid Title 38 employees vs. Title 5 employees.
The employee will be retroactively promoted with back pay, including any subsequent step increases she would have received had the promotion been implemented at the time.

BOP FAILURE TO FILL MISSION CRITICIAL POSTS VIOLATES MASTER AGREEMENT
The Bureau of Prisons Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala., improperly vacated mission critical posts in violation of the Master Agreement between the agency and AFGE, an arbitrator has ruled.
Between 2004 and 2005, BOP instituted the “Mission Critical Roster” program, under which prisons were supposed to place posts on the roster only if they were mission critical. This resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of staffed posts at various prisons. However, even with this reduced number of posts, BOP regularly failed to fill mission critical posts at various facilities, including FCI Talladega.
Local 3844 believed the prison was penny pinching and didn’t want to pay Correctional Officers overtime to fill the positions. The Local filed a grievance, arguing that the failure to fill a mission critical post without good cause violated Article 27 of the Master Agreement, which requires BOP to reduce the inherent hazards of a correctional environment to the lowest level possible without relinquishing any management rights.
AFGE Assistant General Counsel Matthew Milledge represented the Local at the arbitration hearing, where the agency raised a number of procedural and substantive arguments that were struck down by the arbitrator. The arbitrator agreed with AFGE’s argument that Article 27 prevents the BOP from vacating posts without good cause and found that none existed. The arbitrator ordered the agency to pay overtime to any employee who would have received it but for the agency’s violation of the Master Agreement.
D.C. EMPLOYEE WINS REINSTATEMENT, BACK PAY AFTER WRONGFUL REMOVAL
A D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs employee who had been removed without just cause in 2007 finally has been reinstated with full back pay and other entitlements, thanks to dedicated representation of AFGE Assistant General Counsel Leisha Self. An arbitrator in 2009 ruled that the employee, a member of AFGE Local 2725, had been removed improperly but left the remedy up to both parties to settle. DCRA appealed the case at this point, resulting in a long delay for the employee for a remedy.
The agency refused to settle on remedy even after it lost its appeal, so the case was returned to the arbitrator, who ordered the employee reinstated with all of the back pay and benefits requested – including authorizing the employee to use his substantial accrued annual leave without forfeiture. In addition, the arbitrator awarded attorney’s fees of $87,531, plus the amount that AFGE expended on the post-arbitration remedy reply.

ARBITRATOR OVERTURNS BOP OFFICER SUSPENSION
An arbitrator has overturned a seven-day suspension against a Bureau of Prisons senior officer specialist that was ordered by the agency 16 months after the incident in question.
In March 2009, the officer at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., shoved a fellow officer twice during a workplace dispute. In accordance with agency policy in such matters, a Threat Assessment Committee was convened within days of the incident and issued its findings several days later, ruling that the incident was an isolated occurrence that warranted no further action. The agency assigned an investigator to the case nearly a year after the incident and re-interviewed the key witnesses who had earlier provided statements to the Committee. Based on this investigation, BOP proposed a 14-day suspension against the officer in May 2010 that was subsequently reduced to a 7-day suspension by the prison warden in July 2010.
AFGE Local 919 then filed a grievance against the agency, contending the suspension was too harsh considering the circumstances and that the agency violated the terms of the Master Agreement, which requires the timely disposition of disciplinary matters. AFGE Legal Rights Attorney Hampton H. Stennis argued the case at arbitration. The arbitrator agreed with the union, stating, “While some discipline would have been justified had it been timely imposed, the delay in this case leads me to conclude that the grievance should be sustained in its entirety.” The suspension will be expunged from the officer’s record and the officer will be made whole for any earnings lost as a result of the suspension.
AFGE SETTLES CASE IN FAVOR OF DC HHS EMPLOYEE
District 14’s newest National Representative Johnnie Walker recently settled a case for a D.C. Department of Health and Human Services employee and AFGE member. The member faced removal from his position after being charged with inappropriate conduct, negligence in the performance of his job duties, disruptive conduct and failure to complete tasks. Despite the evidence mounted against the employee, AFGE was able to settle the case in the employee’s favor. The member received triple the settlement initially offered and was able to retire early on disability after 30 years of government service. This enabled the member to save his home from foreclosure while also affording him enough money to pay his mortgage through December. DETAILS ON AFGE LEGAL VICTORIES AVAILABLE ONLINE For a full view of cases published in the Rep Wing, click here or go to Casetrack at https://www.afge-casetrack.org/. Back issues of the Rep Wing are available online. To receive printed copies for distribution, please email communications@afge.org.

AFGE SCORES MAJOR WINS IN TSA REMOVAL CASES
The Office of Professional Responsibility Appellate Board (OPRAB) mitigated a removal to a 30-day suspension at Quad City International Airport near Moline, Ill. The TSO was charged with inattention to duty and failure to follow Standard Operating Procedures. The TSO at no time denied the charges and was honest about his unintentional violations, which did not cause any security breaches. AFGE sought a mitigated penalty due to his nearly 10-year service at TSA and prior military service. –Staff Counsel Bobby Walia
An Expert Security Training Instructor (ESTI) from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston who was removed for off-duty misconduct, lack of candor and unprofessional conduct received a mitigated 14-day suspension with back pay after OPRAB sustained the unprofessional conduct charge. This unusual case stems from a February 2010 off-duty incident in which the ESTI was chased from an acquaintance’s apartment by a woman wielding a large butcher’s knife. No arrests were made and all witness accounts indicated the ESTI was not the aggressor. In October 2011, the ESTI was taken to a hotel by a TSA Office of Inspection agent, coercively interrogated and forced to take a polygraph. The ESTI then was removed from his position in August 2012. Thanks to GCO Intern Patrick DePoy for his great work. –Staff Counsel Gregory G. Watts
AFGE is making headway on appeals from terminations involving failure to pass recertification tests. In a series of recent decisions, OPRAB reviewed the cases of TSOs who failed the test and reversed the terminations due to, among other things, management’s failure to offer appropriate remediation. Recent wins include: O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Newark Liberty International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Connecticut (Staff Counsel Julie Yeagle); Miami International Airport and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (Staff Counsel Denise Duarte Alves); three cases at Los Angeles International Airport (Staff Counsel Bobby Walia); and two cases at Detroit Metro Airport (Assistant General Counsel Martin Cohen and Staff Counsel Julie Yeagle).
A TSO at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport who failed the Standard Operating Procedures Assessment (SOPA) three times got a last-minute reprieve. After an appeal was sent to OPRAB, AFGE reached agreement with management for the TSO to re-take the Assessment for a fourth and final time after 40 hours of remediation. The TSO was a nine-year exemplary employee who received a Level 5 PASS score in 2011. The TSO successfully passed the Assessment and will be fully reinstated. –Staff Counsel Bobby Walia

FLRA UPHOLDS AFGE WIN AGAINST OFFICE OF CUBA BROADCASTING
The Federal Labor Relations Authority has upheld an arbitrator’s ruling in a case brought by AFGE that found the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) illegally used a reduction in force action to fire union activists and other employees who had been outspoken critics of the agency. In a November 2011 decision, an arbitrator ruled that former OCB Director Pedro Roig had ordered the RIF and conducted it in such a way to target employees who had spoken out to Government Accountability Office investigators. The arbitrator discounted agency claims that the RIF was necessary because of budget shortfalls and lack of work, finding compelling evidence that Roig rejected attempts to explore cost savings in other areas before implementing a RIF, because he wanted to use budget shortfalls to target employees. The agency also refused the union’s demand to bargain over the impact of the RIF as required under the negotiated labor-management agreement. The agency had appealed the arbitrator’s ruling, but the FLRA rejected every argument made by the agency. AFGE Assistant General Counsel Leisha Self, who represented the AFGE Local 1812 members in their grievance, said that the decision should put every agency on notice that they cannot use budget shortfalls or funding cuts as an excuse to go after specific federal workers who the agency doesn’t like. The FLRA’s decision should have cleared the way for the 16 employees who were separated or otherwise affected during the RIF to be reinstated without loss of seniority or benefits. However, BBG has appealed the FLRA’s ruling to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which will result in further delay for the employees.
DO YOU OR YOUR LOCAL NEED REPRESENTATION? The Legal Representation Fund now refunds to AFGE local unions $2,000 from the Fund, in winning cases handled by AFGE attorneys in which attorney’s fees are awarded and deposited into the Fund. These refunds help to offset some of the costs incurred by the Local going to arbitration. For more information on this unique AFGE program, which provides a free attorney for your back pay arbitrations, email AFGE’s Office of General Counsel at backpay@afge.org.

Thank you, AFGE activists!!

AFGE activists, including both AFGE members and staff, worked tirelessly this election cycle in an effort to bring about the best election outcome for federal employees.  Their hard work paid off on Tuesday night when President Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States and when numerous candidates who support unions and federal employees won their races.

Activists, led by the AFGE political action team, were especially effective after Labor Day and campaigned on the ground and out of AFGE offices.  AFGE activists made over 75,000 phone calls to members in targeted states from phone banks at headquarters and across the country and walked doors in key battleground states.

The AFGE Political Action team sent over a half a million pieces of mail to AFGE members in targeted states and held TeleTown Halls with almost 5,000 AFGE activists in key states during the closing weeks of the election. They conducted an aggressive online program through home emails, Facebook and other social media outlets.  Close to two million emails were launched to the home emails of AFGE members since Labor Day. The AFGE team also produced 8 different videos to inform, inspire and mobilize members.

This was the most aggressive election mobilization AFGE and the political action team have ever undertaken and IT WORKED!

Great job AFGE members and staff!

Will OMB Finally Ask the Richest Federal Contractors to Also Make Sacrifices?

The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA)  recently ran a piece, by AFGE National President J. David Cox,  on  the union’s concerns that federal contractors have yet to pay their fair share in efforts to balance the  federal budget. Read the story below.

Will OMB Finally Ask the Richest Federal Contractors to Also Make Sacrifices?

J. David Cox, Sr.

J. David Cox, Sr., is the National President of the American Federation of Government Employees.

President Obama recently told federal employees that he would postpone an excessively modest fiscal year 2013 pay raise of 0.5 percent until at least April 2013. This would not be the first sacrifice federal employees have made during the Obama Administration to reduce the deficit. The current, unprecedented two-year federal pay freeze will produce $60 billion in savings over ten years. The Unemployment Insurance extension legislation enacted in January took another $15 billion from new federal and postal employees in increased pension contributions for a current total of $75 billion in savings over ten years. Whether the 2013 pay adjustment is the president’s proposed 0.5 percent raise or another freeze, the additional savings to the government will be $28-30 billion.

The total sacrifice by federal employees works out to at least $103-$105 billion over ten years. Of course, this does not include the massive downsizing in federal employment that we expect will result from the discretionary spending caps in the ruinous Budget Control Act. No other discrete group of Americans has been asked to sacrifice more than federal employees—whether they be Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) nursing assistants who care for our wounded warriors, Border Patrol agents who guard our borders, depot workers who repair sophisticated military hardware, labor inspectors who keep our workplaces safe, or Social Security workers who ensure that our elderly receive the benefits they deserve.

No sacrifices, even remotely comparable, have been asked of contractors. Currently, contractors in the Department of Defense (DOD) can charge taxpayers up to $760,000 annually for the compensation of a single employee. For the non-DOD agencies, only the top five most lavishly compensated employees at a contractor are bound by that cap; all other contractor employees can be compensated in excess of the cap. Since 1998, the compensation cap applicable to government contracts has more than doubled, from an egregious $340,650 in 1998 to an unconscionable $693,951 in 2010, which was then raised to its current obscene level in April. Over the last dozen years, the level of taxpayer-reimbursement to contractors for their compensation has risen 53 percent faster than the rate of inflation. The April raise was a 10 percent increase for contractors—at the same time military personnel received a mere 1.7 percent pay raise and federal employees received none at all. Of course, contractors often actually make millions of dollars per year because their firms richly supplement the already generous compensation provided by taxpayers with fees and profits earned on federal contracts.

Overcompensation to contractors is even more outrageous from the standpoint of taxpayers. It has been reliably estimated that the imposition of a $200,000 cap on compensation to all federal service contractors would result in savings to taxpayers of more than $50 billion over ten years. In other words, taxpayers would still compensate contractors generously—as much as a cabinet secretary, including the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security—without any reduction in services, but at a tremendous savings by rationalizing manifestly excessive compensation to the richest 1 percent of contractors during a time of severe austerity. Only in Washington, DC—where the policy-making process has been so corrupted by money and influence—could such a proposal not be quickly adopted. Despite heroic efforts by Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), the House Rules Committee has declined to make in order his floor amendments to the defense authorization bill, both last year and this year, to more reasonably cap contractor compensation. And procedural obstacles have prevented Representative Tonko from offering such common-sense floor amendments to the last two defense appropriations bills.

Fortunately, the Senate has been more active. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered a floor amendment to the FY 2012 Defense Authorization bill, which was accepted without any opposition, which would have capped annual taxpayer reimbursement for contractor compensation at $400,000. In the conference report, her amendment was significantly watered down. Ultimately, the cap was not reduced. However, it was extended to cover all DOD contractors, although scientists and engineers could be exempted from the cap, entirely at DOD’s discretion. Thanks to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the FY 2013 defense authorization bill includes a provision that would cap compensation for defense contractors at $230,000. Thanks to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the FY 2013 Financial Services Appropriations Bill would cap compensation for all contractors at $400,000. Both the Manchin and Durbin provisions would retain exemptions for contractor scientists and engineers. Given that many of the best and most accomplished scientists and engineers in the world work for the federal government for far more modest compensation, it is clear that the work performed by exempted contractor scientists and engineers should be seriously considered for insourcing. Nevertheless, the exemptions eliminate a key argument against the imposition of a more reasonable cap—that more modest taxpayer reimbursements would deny the federal government specialized services.

The House versions of the FY 2013 Defense Authorization and Financial Services Appropriations measures do not include provisions comparable to the Manchin and Durbin caps, so whether contractors will finally be required to sacrifice in the name of budget reduction will be decided by House-Senate conferences. The position taken by OMB will likely be determinative. Historically, OMB has sided with the top 1 percent of contractors, endorsing a cap for only the five most lavishly compensated employees at each firm, which would leave the vast majority of contractors completely uncapped. Will OMB continue to insist that the top 1 percent of service contractors essentially not be required to make any sacrifices towards balancing the budget; that thousands upon thousands of contractors may continue to charge taxpayers annually for hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation; and that a DVA nursing assistant on the night shift who makes less than $35,000 annually, deserves no pay increase at the same time contractors have been given a 10 percent pay increase?

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