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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 23, 2010; 5:44 AM

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. We like to give readers a chance to speak out by occasionally printing some of those letters.

Proposed pay freeze

Columns about the two-year pay freeze facing federal employees next year and the possibility of additional cuts, including to federal retirement benefits, generated lots of reaction.

I'm not happy about my federal pay freeze paying for tax reductions for the rich. Nor am I happy about the continued health [insurance] increases sanctioned by the OPM [Office of Personnel Management]. Why aren't the insurance companies told to skip increases?

- Mary Brown, Landover

As a retired federal worker, I appreciate my retirement benefits. I earned them and forwent higher-paying attorney jobs in the private sector. Part of my reward was the ability to enjoy an excellent defined-benefit retirement through the Civil Service Retirement System. I don't feel bad accepting my monthly retirement. Want to reduce the federal workforce? Pass laws that are less complex and have more detail so it is less difficult to administer them.

- Neil Richman, retired from Department of Veteran Affairs

I am in favor of freezing the pay of federal workers, which I am not, and also in favor of freezing federal retirement pensions, which I have, and freezing Social Security payments, which I receive.

I also am in favor of putting a three-year freeze on hiring in the federal workforce except for critical billets, such as air traffic controllers.

I also am in favor of an across-the-board universal cut of 5 percent in funding contractor support. I am a contractor.

Most of all, I am in support of a 15 percent cut in funding for federal agencies (employee salaries and new acquisitions) effective in fiscal 2013.

If I were in position as "The Decider," I'd ask these simple questions: "Do our customers need this?" "Is it critical?" and "Will lives be put at risk if we don't do this?" If the answer to these questions is no, I'd cancel the program then and there. The federal government is there to provide essential services, not be our nanny to address all our desires.

I've been a fed for one career and a contractor for another career and have never seen any agency ask those types of questions, and I have never seen an agency consciously trying to trim its own budget. The agencies operate as if they own the money in their checkbook and that as long as there is money in it, it is theirs to spend.


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