One of the first headaches facing the next administration and the new Congress will involve congressional pay raises.
The Commission on Executive, Legislative and Judicial Salaries -- known locally as the "Quad Com" because it meets every four years -- is back in the unenviable business of telling Americans that their top elected and appointed officials do not make enough money.
By law, the nine-member Quad Com is revived every fourth October. Purpose is to study top-level federal pay, take a look at what private industry is doing for its captains, and come up with recommendations for new, improved pay checks for the government's top 2,-500 -- from Supreme Court members to high-level federal officials.
Any raise approved for the officials and members of Congress, who now get $60,000-plus in straight pay, could translate into raises down the line for 35,000 lower-ranking career bureaucrats. Their wages have been frozen at the $50,112.50 level by the president who, like other presidents before him, sees little future in proposing top federal raises in an election year. The 9.1 percent raise that kicked in this week for most of the government's million-plus white-collar civil servants does not go to top bosses.
Because of the pay freeze, about 35,000 U.S. officials who have different jobs, different titles and vastly different responsibilities now make the same salary. Many think it is a heck of a way to run the free world's largest enterprise.
The last Quad Com was appointed during president Gerald Ford's term. It came up with recommendations for congressional, judicial and executive raises that benefited the largely Democratic Congress, and the incoming team being assembled by then President-elect Carter.
Whatever recommendations the new Quad Com (to be headed by retired COMSAT chief Joseph H. McConnell) comes up with will form the basis for pay recommendations Carter will send to the new Congress in the next national budget.
Congress will have 30 days to vote up or down on the new raises.