MuniGov 2.0 is a coalition of local/municipal governments focused on exploring the use and principles of Web 2.0 in an effort to improve citizen services and communication via technology.
State and Local Government Compensation Study
May 2, 2010 at 11:03 am #99548
Title: Out of Balance Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation over 20 Years
The current recession and the resulting fiscal difficulties faced by state and local governments have renewed interest in the compensation of the public workforce in regard to pay, pensions, and other benefits. In this report we examine the extent to which state and local government compensation in the United States is comparable to compensation in the private sector.
Levels of compensation help determine both the competence and the efficiency of governmental services. Excessive levels waste resources, depriving governments of the opportunity to address other costly objectives or to reduce burdens to taxpayers. Insufficient levels make it difficult, if not impossible, to attract workers of the quality needed to provide the services demanded by citizens. Comparability with the private sector is the most generally accepted standard by which economists and compensation specialists judge whether the processes for determining compensation in the public sector are working.
CNN Money “article/commentary” on study
May 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm #99553
Anyone working in local government knows what this article states is true. Due to the problems caused by the economy, some working in the private sector have started to begrudge public workers their typical salaries and benefits and even their jobs. But when times are good, these same people are collecting big Christmas and end of year bonuses, and we are getting our standard paycheck. Another point in all this is that even though many in the public sector have been laid off, in general a govt worker is less likely to experience this than a private sector employee, and again those in the private sector are now upset about all this. But these are all choices each person makes when deciding between public and private. It is unreasonable to make your choice then get upset when what could be expected to happen occurs.
One aspect of public employment that is not discussed but should be factored in is that as a public employee we have to conduct ourselves all day long and sometimes even in off hours in a different manner than if we worked in the private sector. Everything we do all day long is monitored and questioned by potentially every resident in our community. In the past, I have had people complain to my boss that they felt I was buying too many materials to build my house from a business located outside our city. I have had people complain that I was buying groceries at a store not in the city I work for. How many in the private sector would accept this type of scrutiny? They can take the company vehicle and stop anywhere they want any time of the day without having to worry about someone taking their photo with a cell phone and sending it to the newspaper. I once saw people on a site bashing a city because the site showed a photo of a city’s utility van parked outside a business on the weekend. The readers’ first thought was they were abusing city equipment. My first thought was they had a water or sewer problem, and these city workers had to come out on a weekend to help.
As public employees we understand and accept all this as part of the job, but there is a significant benefit to not having to worry about every move you make on or off the job. It’s just hard to assign a dollar figure to it.
May 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm #99551
Harold (Hal) Good, CPPOParticipant
Well said Pam! In good times, due to the lack of bonuses, commissions, stock options, profit sharing, etc there are many who do not choose to work for government. Government is viewed as the potential “employer of last resort”. Since these are not good times, some are having “buyers regret”. We are “The Road Not Taken”. It will be interesting to see what their prospective will be five or ten years from now.
We are seeing the same type of dynamic at work in contracting. Companies who historically relied on private sector business are seeking government contracts in this economy. We become the suddenly desireable “customer of last resort” Those of us in procurement and contracting who are already stretched for resources are responding to this with a plethora or outreach and “How to do business with government’ programs.” Speaking for myself, “Glad to do it!” Just can’t help but wonder how attractive our market will be to the same companies after the economy recovers?
Careers and procurements should be “Best Value” decisions. Best Value is determined by looking at the entire expected useful life. Making decisions wisely, requires due diligence in gathering and weighing relevant information and deciding how much risk one is comfortable taking. When conditions change, it is probably normal to think of what we could have done or wish we had done. We make our decisions and we live with the resultant “contract”. Depending on the economy and market fluctuations, that choice will look better or worse in retrospect. By the way, I wish I could take back the contract for natural gas we executed last year. And maybe I should have spent more effort to become a major league baseball player?! Should I be hating Derek Jeter?
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