The nightmare of antibureaucrats has come true. It is now official:
Chiefs here in Washington really do outnumber the indians. It was inevitable.
At last count there were 291 Grade 18 federal career federal civil servants in the Washington area making the maximum $47,500 salary. These are top managers and assistants to even higher paid officials. By contract there are only 275 Grade 1 employes whose starting pay, even with the new 5.5 percent raise, is $6,561.
The federal government's grade pyramid, which never really looked much like a pyramid, is more like an hour-glass those days. The government has become more professional and technical, and has less need for low-grade, low-paid elevator operators and messengers.
Out in the field, away from Washington, the grade situation is more like a pyramid with lower grade employes outnumbering higher grade workers. But here, at headquarters, you are as likely to pass a GS 16 in the halls as a GS 2 worker. More likely, in fact, because GS 16 people spend more time going to and from conferences than GS 2 employes.
When the last grade census was made here, in March of 1977, there were 2,318 Grade 16 federal workers in Washington - $44,756 to $47,500. That is close to the number of Grade 2 workers, the 2,486 who earn from $7,422 to $9,645.
Grade 3 employment here was only 9,146 compared with the 14,223 Grade 15 workers. In fact, there are more GS 14 managers and supervisors, 22-125, than there are clerical people at GS 4, who account for only 17,619 jobs.
Many agencies now have more scientists than secretaries, and some boast more lawyers than stenographers. Machines and changing missions have wiped out many low-grade, low-paying jobs here while the complexity of government and headquarters operations has created a demand for more middle and high-level workers.
Congress in recent years had been the major contributor (as well as the major critic) of "grade creep." While cussing the bureaucracy for getting top-heavy, both the Senate and House routinely have punctured the "supergrade" barrier, voting new programs and authorizing more and more high grade employes to run them.
The increasing number of high-level jobs here, because of changing work loads and congressionally-manadated supergrade additions, is the reason the average white collar federal salary in Washington now is $21,803 for workers in D.C., and over $20,000 in both the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
The grade creep situation here is one reason so many people are flocking to Washington to look for a government job. At last count some middle-level positions had 99 qualified applicants for each opening. In some fields the backlog of applicants make it almost impossible for people to get work - or even a response - from an agency when applying.
Strike Fallout: One-hundred New York area postal workers have been fired, pending appeals, so far for allegedly taking part in illegal strike activities. Strikes against the government are punishable by dismissal, a jail term and/or a fine. Approximately 20 New York area workers have been suspended and letters of warning have been sent to 250 others. Others are going out. That official tally from the U.S. Postal Service is far short of the number of employes unions claim have been fired and disciplined for alleged strike action.
ACTION Agency: Workers there got only half their normal paycheck Friday because of the budget hassle between the Senate and House. Labor Department employes also got short-paid because their agency ran out of money Oct. 1.
AT ACTION, the American Federation of Stale, County and Municipal Employes union is making short-term, no-interest loans to tide members over until the rest of their paycheck is made up.
Communications Leaders: The 23rd world conference of the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International is here this week, at the Hyatt Regency. Several hundred union leaders from communications operations of various nations are in town to meet, see how we do things, and talk with U.S. officials including the President, on common problems. American postal and communications workers unions are hosting the session.