Merit pay, the smoking ban and proposed changes in pension tax rules are the subject of today's feedback from readers. If you would like to sound off, or send your colleagues or leaders a very public message, drop me a line c/o the Monday Morning Quarterback, Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
This is what people are writing about:
*"As a 30-year fed I'm delighted that GSA has finally decided to ban smoking in government buildings -- even 32 years after the surgeon general issued the smoking and health report.
"I remember the foul odor of smoke on my clothes and violent headaches after coming home from work. I remember many letters to GSA -- rarely acknowledged -- asking the government to stop buying smoker-related items and to bill employes whose smoking damaged carpets and furniture. Nothing happened.
"I'm glad the no-smoking rule is coming, but sorry it took so long." Nonsmoker in Virginia
*"Too bad nobody speaks anymore of the fundamental unfairness of the House tax reform plan to change tax rules for federal retirees. Seems it's no longer a question of fighting an unfair change in law, only a question of when the law will be changed!
"This shortsightedness by employes (and some writers) erodes the will to fight for a basic benefit. The slant is on which day people should retire to beat the deadline. The fundamental issue that should be fought to the death is not when it happens, but that it shouldn't happen at all!
"Where are the 15 million state, county and city workers and their unions? Are they completely unaware of what's happening? They have the clout in Congress to impress Congress. Will they wake up only after the law has been changed? Sad. Very sad." H.K.O., Baltimore
*"Do children still read the tale of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'? I hope so! It is a masterpiece about a scam I recalled after reading the May 12 Washington Post editorial about merit pay in government.
"Merit pay or whatever other mesmerizing tag they attach to it is a significant factor in the tragicomedy of management under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. It and other experiments and 'flexibilities' scream for closer scrutiny before 'reforms' are allowed to take off in new directions and new areas. But that never seems to happen.
"Gimmicks such as the Navy's merit pay experiment in China Lake, Calif., are simply pronounced a 'success.' By whom? On the basis of what criteria we never know! We're told recruitment, retention and morale are all better . . . and incidentally, costs are 5 percent higher.
"The public isn't told what it gets for this 5 percent cost increase. We aren't to concern ourselves whether productivity is up more than 5 percent (the Reform Act promised flexible management would mean improvements), or what benefit, product or output for public better has resulted, or whether what is being done at increased cost is something we want done more, better, or at all!
"In 'The Emperor's New Clothes' the deliberate acquiescence on the part of the emperor, the court and the citizenry is finally brought to an end when the emperor parades before his subject in his expensive (and invisible) new clothes. The crowd cheers and ignores the obvious, until a child cries out, 'The emperor has no clothes on!' I strongly suspect the child would say the same thing about merit pay!" J.B., Fairfax