If you are a stressed-out federal worker and feel as if you are working more (and perhaps enjoying it less), there may be a reason. Look at a group snapshot of your office 10 years ago and compare it with the present crew.

In a growing number of federal agencies, the watchword is, "Will the last employee please turn out the lights!"

Things are not that bad (or good, if you are a government hater) yet. But Uncle Sam is getting smaller, even as the percentages of women and minorities in government are showing dramatic gains, thanks to targeted buyout programs, which paid longtime workers $25,000 (before deductions) to retire, and to specialized recruiting programs aimed at women and minorities, in general, and Hispanics, in particular.

The Navy lost the most civilian workers, 102,000, over the last six years, followed by the Army, 80,000, and Air Force, 42,000. Overall, Defense Department agencies reduced civilian employment by 266,000 jobs.

Most of the 130,000 workers who have been given buyouts to take retirement in recent years have been white males in middle-grade jobs in the Defense Department. In addition to buyouts and reduced hiring, 20,000 to 30,000 federal workers have been laid off (riffed) over the last six years.

For many employees, the smaller government--with increased demands--means more work and more overtime, both paid and unpaid. It also means more government employees are working closely with private contractors, who have taken over many functions in many agencies.

The number of federal executive branch employees has dropped 342,000 since 1993, when the Clinton administration launched its downsizing program and began to privatize various services such as background investigations, aircraft repair and food services.

Executive branch federal employment now stands at 1,846,581 (as of April), the lowest level since 1961, the first year of the Kennedy administration, when there were 1,824,578 federal civil servants. Federal executive branch employment was about 2.1 million at the start of the Reagan administration and peaked at 2,250,323 in the middle of the Bush administration.

Since President Clinton took office, most government agencies outside of the U.S. Postal Service (which has gotten bigger) have lost employees. The judicial branch (the courts) has grown from 28,000 to nearly 32,000 employees in six years, and the legislative branch (Congress and allied agencies) has dropped from 38,000 to 30,000.

The Postal Service, which is a quasi-governmental corporation and is not part of the executive branch, has grown from 782,980 workers in January 1993 to 874,818, according to Office of Personnel Management data.

Union Pact The National Treasury Employees Union has signed a national bargaining agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration. It is the first nationwide agreement covering all employees--including members of the commissioned corps--of the key Department of Health and Human Services agency.

No-Tax States

The Senior Executive Association says that traditionally high-tax states--like New York and Massachusetts--have been luring federal retirees as residents because they don't impose state taxes on civil service annuities. Many states changed their tax policies a decade ago after an SEA member won a Supreme Court ruling that prohibited states from treating pensions of their own retired state workers more favorably than those of federal retirees.

According to the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, the following states have no personal income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. States that exempt the total amount of civil service annuities from state taxes are: Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Most financial planners caution customers against moving anywhere just because the state has low, or no, income taxes.

New Webb Site

Frances Webb has retired from the Federal Managers Association after 20 years of service. She started as a secretary, but FMA quickly figured out she was a human dynamo and moved her up to director of membership services and then made her chief operating officer.

Mike Causey's e-mail address is causeym@washpost.com

Wednesday, July 21, 1999