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Most just got a raise of 4.2%Wages...


Most just got a raise of 4.2%

Wages of most federal workers increased 4.2 percent yesterday. President Bush on Dec. 26 signed an executive order that raised the pay for about 1.5 million employees.

The increases are the result of changes in the government'Employment Cost Index, with the pay of most employees rising by 4.2 percent. Workers in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles are receiving raises of 8 percent to compensate for higher living costs in those areas.

Salary scales released by the Office of Personnel Managemenshow that an employee at the bottom of the pay ladder, ranked a General Schedule 1, now receives $11,478. Those at the top level -- GS 15 -- are being paid $83,502.

Members of Congress and top members of the administratioand the judiciary also received pay increases: Vice President Dan Quayle now makes $166,200, as does House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash.; House members and senators receive $129,500; U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist makes $166,200, the associate Supreme Court justices $159,000.

In 1993, federal workers will receive a 3.7 percent increaseaccording to the president's order. The salary calculations change in 1994 under the pay reform bill passed by Congress last year.

Social Security criticized:

Federal workers' unions are criticizing the Social Security Administration following a recent General Accounting Office study of the agency.

The report pointed to the agency's failure to upgrade itinformation systems' backup and recovery operations, which has resulted in an inability to back up 80 percent of its computerized workload.

In a letter to key members of Congress, the head of the NationaTreasury Employees Union urged immediate action to correct a situation he says has left millions of people vulnerable.

"This extraordinarily risky venture could result in a collapse oSSA's ability to serve the public," wrote union President Robert M. Tobias. "A significant data loss could lead to not only fraudulent payments to ineligible claimants, but to delays exceeding those that already exist in processing claims for new beneficiaries."

Tobias also assailed what he called a "penny-wise anpound-foolish" approach to funding SSA expenses -- and pointed to the impact of massive reductions in force during the 1980s that are being felt today.

"While SSA's salary and expense fund increased marginally fofiscal year 1992, it remains dismally insufficient to finance the needs of this agency," wrote Tobias.

The large reduction in force in the 1980s "carried with it a steehuman price tag," resulting in a "demoralized work force, severe staff imbalances in field offices, rising disability caseload backlogs and increasing public frustration at the lack of access to SSA staff and information," Tobias wrote.

He urged the lawmakers to create an independent SSA as a firsstep in restoring the agency's autonomy in fiscal and personnel matters.

The letter was delivered to members of the Senate FinancCommittee, the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees on labor, health and human services, and the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security.

Saved by the belt:

The General Services Administration's Federal Protective Service Division, in concert with the Baltimore County Police Department and the state of Maryland, will hold a program on the importance of safety belts Jan. 30 at 10 a.m.

The program, called "Saved by the Safety Belt," also wilrecognize people who survived automobile crashes because they wore seat belts. The program will be held at the Social Security Administration's Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security Blvd., Woodlawn.

Hagerstown survey:

The Office of Personnel Management will conduct a survey to see if a proposed federal government satellite office in Hagerstown would satisfy employees who now commute long distances or would be acceptable to their bosses.

The satellite proposal, backed by Hagerstown officials, woulprovide office space, computers and high-speed telephone linkups for as many as 200 local workers from a variety of government agencies.

OPM will survey both federal workers who live in Maryland anthe federal agencies that employ them to determine if the workers want to be closer to home and if their bosses will agree to having them work at a center away from their agency headquarters, says Wendell Joice, an OPM personnel research psychologist.

OPM Director Constance B. Newman called the satellite officproposal "a major recruiting and retention tool." Besides accommodating Maryland residents, a Hagerstown office would bolster OPM's Flexible Workplace program, known as Flexiplace, which allows some employees to work from their homes and nearby offices.

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