Chauffeuring government VIPs to and from work to evening meetings, parties and weekend conferences is a time-consuming job. But at time-and-a-half for overtime, it does have its rewards. In fact some of the drivers make more money than some of the lesser VIPs they have in the back seat. For instance:
The driver for Defense Secretary Harold Brown made $37,800 in 1977. That included $22,400 in addition to his regular civil service salary of $15,400.
HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr.'s chauffer earned $37,405 last year. His regular salary of $14,047 was dwarfed by the $23,358 in weekend and overtime pay he earned driving the hard-driving (or riding) Califano on his appointed rounds.
The Wheelman for busy Commerce Secretary Juania M. Kreps earned $19,815.55 in overtime during the 1978 fiscal year, plus his regular $15,538 salary.
Although there wouldn't seem to be many farm groups in Washington, the driver for Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland got $10,975 in overtime plus his $19,064 salary.
Civilian transportation costs for the secretary of the Army included the $14,500 base pay of his driver, plus $8,400 in overtime.
The secretary of the Navy's chauffeur earned $14,000 and another $9,600 in overtime while the Air Force secretary's driver got $7,900 in extra pay, in addition to his $13,700.
Under the Carter administration's antilimousine policy, the number of big cars in government and the number of people authorized door-to-door use of them has declined. But it is still big business. The civilian side of government has 428,000 cars.
In most departments only the Cabinet officer and his or her deputy rate 24-hour on-call chauffeur service. But cars and drivers are sometimes lent to lesser officials for pickup and delivery when they have been working particularly hard. These are the backseat men and women Washington drivers often see in the evening, studying important-looking papers using goosenecked, high-intensity lamps which are very much a status symbol in federal carpools.
From time to time irate citizens call newspapers and federal agencies to complain that a child, bunch of flowers or load of dry-cleaning is being hauled around in a government limousine.
An official in charge of car records at one department, who asked that his/her name, affiliation, sex and everything else be kept confidential said it is "not unknown" for Cabinet types and other high federal officials to "loan" their car and driver to the wife or husband for errands, or to drop junior off to school, or marbles practice. But he/she said that he/she had never had occasion to call the boss down for apparent misuse of a government vehicle and doubted if would ever happen.
Only the chauffeurs know for sure and none of them is talking. As one career driver said: "I get paid to keep my eyes open and my mouth shut." He was on overtime when he made that statement.
Baltimore Bound: HEW has definitely decided to move 700 Washington area workers to the big Social Security complex in Woodlawn, a suburb of Baltimore. The shift will begin Feb. 15 and finish up in April. About 202 workers in he medic aid standards section, now in the Parklawn building, and 503 downtown HEW workers will be involved in the big relocation. Many of them have protested the move and a number quit or found other jobs when the plans were announced.
Meantime, Social Security in Baltimore is still mulling over a plan to move a couple of hundred workers from here to Washington. Many of them are unhappy as well. The only big smiles are coming from moving companies that will handle the people and furniture transactions.