Least Surprising News of the Day


A survey of federal workers finds that just 22 percent agree with the statement "Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs."

The employee survey was conducted during the summer of 2006. More than 221,400 employees completed it, for a response rate of 57 percent. The pay-and-performance question received the highest negative rating in the survey, OPM said.

But it was not the only troublesome response in the survey. About 35 percent of the federal employees said promotions are not based on merit, 36 percent did not see differences in performance "recognized in a meaningful way," and 33 percent said bonuses do not depend on how well employees perform their jobs.

Cato's Chris Edwards, who recently endured the wrath of the civil service mafia for daring to suggest federal employees might—just might—be overpaid, provides the standard libertarian talking points. The response from labor leaders is worth a spit take:

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the survey results say less about the current pay system and more about why a performance-based system would not work in federal agencies.

"I think the survey response indicates most federal workers don't trust a system by which they would be compensated or receive raises based on how they are judged on their performance by their managers," Gage said. "Federal workers don't believe that they are compensated based on their performance but on other more subjective factors."

What other "more subjective factors" could possibly be a better determinant of what a federal worker's salary ought to be than his actual performance? His looks? His taste in music?

On a related note, happy "National Return Your Shopping Cart to the Supermarket Month." Here's a public service announcement , courtesy of your salary-commensurate-with-subjective-factors-other-than-performance civil servants at the Census Bureau. Don't forget bread trays and milk crates, too!