Federal agencies lag in college recruiting

Newswatch ... ON FEDERAL WORKERS

February 26, 1992|By Carol Emert | Carol Emert,States News Service

Federal agencies are not competing effectively with private companies in job recruitment on college campuses, according to a study by the General Accounting Office.

Many students at 40 randomly selected colleges told the GAO that face-to-face contact with recruiters is one of the most important factors in getting them interested in jobs.

But the study found the government lags far behind private-sector firms in campus visits.

Twenty-one companies visited at least 17 of the 40 schools, while only two federal agencies -- the Internal Revenue Service and the Central Intelligence Agency -- visited 17 campuses.

College placement officers complained that the application process is unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming.

"Government jobs are unattractive because of the lengthy process it requires to get hired," said one placement officer quoted in the survey.

Budget criticized

The head of the American Federation of Government Employees has sharply criticized President Bush's proposed FY 1993 budget before a congressional panel, and enumerated the union's alternative position on topics affecting federal workers.

AFGE is the nation's largest union for federal employees. It represents some 700,000 federal workers and retirees, including more than 14,000 at the Social Security Administration headquarters in Woodlawn.

In testimony before the House Budget Committee recently, AGFE President John N. Sturdivant opposed virtually all of the president's proposals affecting the federal work force, including:

* Pay raise delay: President Bush's plan to postpone the customary federal pay raise 90 days, from January to April 1993, would cost workers $460 million -- money the president has said will go toward reducing the deficit.

Federal workers already have made a "large concession" when the annual pay raise was moved from the beginning of the fiscal year in October to the beginning of the calendar year, Mr. Sturdivant said. That policy has cost government employees $2.5 billion since it was put into place seven years ago, he said.

* Wage grade pay system --Blue-collar government employees, who operate under the Prevailing Rate Wage compensation system, face restrictive caps on pay because their salary levels are tied to those of white-collar workers under the General Schedule pay plan, Mr. Sturdivant said.

The Prevailing Rate system is based on locality differentials, but the General Schedule caps prevent workers in some localities from getting their full adjustment, Mr. Sturdivant said.

* Funding of pay increases -- This year, as in years past, the source of funding for federal pay increases was not specified in the budget, Mr. Sturdivant said. The percentage the federal government and agencies pay usually varies with the agency, he said.

Mr. Sturdivant asserted that "pay increases should be fully funded throughout the government to avoid "forcing agencies and programs to cut back in some areas in order to pay for salary adjustments."

* Increases in employee contributions to pension plans -- The federal retirement programs are an "irresistible target for budget cutters" because they "constitute the only aspect of federal compensation that compares favorably with that provided by large private-sector employers," Mr. Sturdivant asserted.

President Bush has proposed increasing the percentage of funding employees contribute to the Civil Service Retirement System by 1 percent in 1993 and in 1994. This constitutes a "tax increase on one segment of middle-class America -- a 2 percent pay cut for 1.7 million federal employees," Mr. Sturdivant said.

* Defense Department downsizing -- Mr. Sturdivant said the end of the Cold War has made parts of an enormous DOD "obsolete," but the nation has an obligation to those who "helped sustain our defense capacities in the past."

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