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In recent years the federal workforce has been in the news like never before, and usually not in ways that federal employees would prefer. The national debate over the size and cost of the federal government has spilled over into a debate over the size and cost of the federal workforce. There’s a strong view in certain quarters that by both measures it is too large and needs to be cut down. Part of that view is a perception that the workforce is growing out of control. And part of that is a perception that employees’ pay and benefits likewise are far above what a comparable person would earn in the private sector.

The result has been a series of proposals to limit benefits, shrink the workforce and hold down pay. Those proposals have been accepted, at least so far is pay is concerned, in the form of three years of frozen pay rates. It’s a testament to certain federal employee organizations, some fedfriendly members of Congress and some independent outside “good government” groups that the damage has not been more severe. The debate plays out not just on a national level but also on a personal one. If you’ve been a federal employee for any length of time, you’ve heard the criticisms. Possibly you’ve responded—holding your temper as much as you can—by trying to rebut misconceptions, but have been argued down or simply disbelieved by someone who gets his or her information from certain places.

What you need is a way to set the record straight, and with reference to authoritative, neutral sources—in other words, talking points. That’s where this publication comes in. It analyzes the key areas of debate and provides hard statistics from trustworthy, neutral sources, along with references to those sources that you can point someone to if need be. It won’t keep you out of further unpleasant discussions about federal employment, but it will put you on solid ground when, inevitably, you are drawn into them.

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