Examining Federal Pay: A Reponse to OPM Director John Berry

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We were disappointed when OPM Director John Berry made grossly inaccurate statements about our federal-private pay comparisons during a Congressional hearing. He claimed that our analyses do not account for differences in education levels between federal and public employees. Not only are education controls central to our analyses, but OPM's own pay study controls for neither educations nor any other worker characteristic.

Now we are just disappointed to read OPM's official response to our reports. Rather than engaging us in a discussion about federal pay reform, OPM has weakly attempted to "debunk" our research.

OPM's Response:

  • Levels several either invalid or unimportant charges against our wage analyses, a reaction akin to throwing mud against a wall to see how much will stick;
  • Barely addresses benefits, which are responsible for much of the federal compensation premium;
  • Does not address the fact that federal workers rarely voluntarily quit, indicating they believe they get better compensation in the government than outside it, and;
  • Ignores our detailed critique of OPM's own methodology.
Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI. Jason Richwine and James Sherk are senior policy analysts at the Heritage Foundation.

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About the Author

 

Andrew G.
Biggs
  • Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.

    Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.

    Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

  • Phone: 202-862-5841
    Email: andrew.biggs@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Kelly Funderburk
    Phone: 202-862-5920
    Email: kelly.funderburk@aei.org

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