The Office of Personnel Management today refuted the findings of a recent USA Today story that found federal employees earn far more than employees in the private sector — and doubled down on the government’s current pay gap method that finds government employees earn 22 percent less on average than their private-sector counterparts.
The points they laid out in this afternoon’s hastily-arranged press conference should be familiar to anyone who’s been following the issue in recent months. USA Today’s findings don’t compare like jobs, OPM pointed out, or people with equivalent skills and levels, in the same geographic areas — all factors that can result in higher government salaries.
But even though OPM Director John Berry earlier this summer acknowledged that the government’s pay gap estimates “have a credibility problem” and said he wanted to come up with a new, more transparent way of determining that gap, OPM now appears to be walking away from that pledge. In the conference call today, OPM officials reiterated their belief that the president’s pay agent’s current method is the best possible method of determining the pay gap.
“We do not know of anything better,” said Sheldon Friedman, the chairman of OPM’s Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee.
Despite Berry’s pledge to ask outside groups such as the National Academy of Public Administration to help them determine a better way to compare public and private pay, OPM Communications Director Sedelta Verble said that has not happened. All of which leaves the debate more or less where it began.