(Washington, D.C.)—“The Bush Administration has brazenly ignored the law which is supposed to govern the pay of federal employees at the same time that it defies the longstanding tradition of pay parity between civilian and military government employees,” stated Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), in a statement following public release of President Bush’s 2004 budget proposals.
“Bush’s budget issues his standard rationale for failing to uphold the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA), signed into law by his father in 1990—problems with the Department of Labor’s methodology in determining the comparability of federal pay with the private sector. Yet nowhere does he ever describe his methodological problems. I have asked repeatedly—what changes in methodology would you like to implement so that FEPCA can go forward? Previously, the methodological problems appeared to be related to the locality component of federal pay, which Bush has tried to eliminate for the past two years. Yet this year, his methodological problems seem to have spread to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) component.
“If the invocation of methodological problems is something more than an empty excuse for shortchanging the federal workforce, then it is incumbent on the Bush Administration to come forward with a straightforward critique of FEPCA’s methodology and recommendations for its improvement. AFGE stands ready to work with the Administration to solve any real methodological problems.
“Of course, the Administration’s proposal of a 2 percent salary adjustment for General Schedule workers, which is less than half of the average proposed for the military, has nothing to do with methodology. It has everything to do with the disdain and disrespect this President has for America’s workforce. When he isn’t busy privatizing their jobs for the benefit of his political cronies, he is taking away civil service protections and redirecting the government payroll to enhance political patronage.
“As the review unfolds at NASA, we are learning that the same policies reflected and intensified in Bush’s proposals may well have led to the quality and safety questions surrounding the tragedy of the space shuttle Columbia. The impact of downsizing/privatizing, along with the “cheaper and faster” mentality, has not resulted in better outcomes for NASA. Such reckless policies will no doubt have the same impact on the rest of government.”