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Federal Diary readers respond

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The Federal Diary gets lots of reader reaction, via e-mail, snail mail and online posts generally signed with nicknames. Some of it is fit to print. Occasionally, we give readers a chance to speak out by publishing their remarks, edited for clarity and length.

Columns on the ways Republicans and Democrats treat federal employees drew a vigorous response from readers. The House-passed Republican budget, authored by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, would extend the current freeze on basic federal pay rates until 2015, for a total of five years. President Obama has proposed extending the two-year freeze, originally scheduled to end in December, until spring.

Jamie13 posted this note:

So instead of having the federal government lead the way in compensation and benefits, the GOP would prefer a race to the bottom. I’m a life-long Republican who has served my country as a civilian employee for almost 15 years. I can’t begin to express my disillusion.

You get what you pay for, people. You get what you pay for.

John991 wrote:

Even though I’m a former federal worker, I have to agree with the GOP on this issue. The majority of feds are grossly overpaid — the pay freeze should probably be extended until 2025, and even at that, many would still be overpaid. In fact, many of the so-called federal “workers” would be hard pressed to find any job in the real world.

I’ve worked for three or four different agencies, and in every one of my offices, I’d say 20 percent of the employees were worthless fat slobs who did little if any work. And yet there they were, collecting $110K per year plus benefits, protected by the union or the EEO office.

caseyb1 responded:

Nuts!

I worked in several agencies too and found nothing like you write. Which offices? Which EEO office? Which union? Did you blow the whistle?

I saw a few, very few, who did not put in a day’s work for a day’s pay. They were recognized as bad hires. No promotions, no future. They left and went into private industry.

Over 30+ years I saw dozens of dedicated employees working nights and weekends at no extra pay to meet deadlines. I saw family vacations canceled to meet those deadlines.

Monitoring employee computers

One reader says that computer surveillance of federal employees is more common than a column indicated, and another says monitoring is not spying.

When I worked at DOD (Department of Defense), Office of Inspector General, managers were able to request computer usage reports from an office set up to monitor all employees’ computer usage 24/7. I had two employees whose work was deficient and I suspected excessive usage of the Internet for surfing that did not relate to their jobs. I was able to get reports showing every site they visited every hour of the day. I think computer monitoring is much more common in the government than your column seems to indicate.

FYI, I left the government almost two years ago, so this has been going on for some time.

— Barbara Green

Arlington

All government employees, both civilian and military, know and have signed documents saying they understand government computers may be monitored. It’s not “spying.” It’s monitoring. This is an attempt to stop wasting time at work, surfing porn on government computers and many other things. The government has toll-free hotlines, posted as required, for waste, fraud and abuse. The government has a program (or it did when I was military) that pays whistleblowers a share of any monetary savings as an incentive to stop waste. Not sure what you guys are getting at with repeated allegations of government spying on employees, but it is starting to look like Jesse Ventura is now posing as a journalist.

— Bill Patterson

Ravenswood, W.Va.

Stock Act jeopardizes feds

Columns on how the provisions of the Stock Act , which require online posting of personal financial data, could place some federal employees in jeopardy drew this comment posted by jfschumaker:

We all know that the federal government leaks like crazy, but why are we making the job of our adversaries even easier by publishing information on the Internet that can be used to hurt our own national interests? Anyone remember WikiLeaks? There are easy ways to fix the glaring security problems posed by the Stock Act if Congress will just take the time to make them. Representatives and senators seem very keen on denying the American public knowledge of who contributes to their own political campaigns, and yet they want to publish the financial information of federal employees on the Internet? Maybe it’s only me, but my hypocrisy meter has just buried the needle.

Let us know what you think.

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.

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