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07/09/2006

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Arun Khanna

Government employees in high demand (by private sector) departments should be paid an opportunity cost salary increment. Federal government needs to create a non pay grade system so highly skilled people can be hired in government for five or ten year stints.

monkyboy

Seems you guys have this exactly backwards.

Any lumpen political hack can get a job in the government, serve a few years, then get a million dollar a year job securing pork for their new employer.

The government needs to start charging a tuition fee to anyone who wants to work in the Defense Dept. or Homeland Security.

To maximize their take, the government should auction off these jobs each year to the highest bidder.

Jake

Retention in federal government employment is also a function of age. Government employment can be a nice way to end one's career, if you already have a nest egg put away. Naturally, you have to put up with bureaucratic inefficiencies exceeding those in the private sector (although the point is arguable). But one can make a serious contribution to the public, and get better-than-average retiree health benefits. And even after the shift away from a defined benefit retirement scheme some 20 years ago, to a defined contribution scheme, a government pension is still pretty good. Maybe not, if you have truly lavish appetites, but not everyone does. (Federal judges have really great, constitutionally guaranteed, retirement benefits, as Judge Posner knows -- and deservedly so.)

My point is that a 50-something or 60-something federal official probably views the calculus of the revolving door differently than a 30-something or 40-something federal official. If the federal official is an immoral opportunist, then all bets are off, of course.

oop

"I am skeptical about the advantages of developing much more stringent rules that prevent federal officials from going to work for suppliers of services or products to the agencies that employed them."

more on this please, GB. Are the rules all that stringent? is it because you don't believe the potential conflicts of interest are worth worrying about or that they just can't be prevented with such measures? either way, it is still not pleasant watching less civic minded colleagues using a public position to further a private career. is there a case for preventing the use of sensitive data acquired for a public interest being used for a private one by such individuals? if so, how can it be done without limiting the career path of those who have had access to such data?

Zathras

There is a comment above that got by the spam filter.

"More stringent rules," if they included an extension from one to two years or more during which former employees of a department could not lobby officials of that department, would more likely discourage Posner's "birds of passage" than it would genuinely able and valuable people from joining, and staying in, the federal government. For one thing it would reduce the time in which former officials of a department could lobby during the tenure of the administration they served. Former officials could be expected to lose much of their "pull" once administrations change, especially if they change from Republican to Democratic or vice versa.

Bill

Sometimes it is important to look at what makes a revolving door opportunity attractive and address that problem directly. Specifically, one should make government procurement practices very transparent, and work to introduce competition in procurement through various auction mechanisms that will reduce the value of prior relationships and inside information from being used to procure contracts. Sunlight and transparency--some bacteria cannot survive in the light of day.

oop

i should have added in my earlier post that i don't believe equalizing pay across senior level public and private jobs is realistic without changing the character of a public enterprise to "for profit"

Edward Bernstein

Those who take the job to enable them to peddle influence later are best not hired in the first place. Their true cost includes the unfavorable contracts that will result in the future. Best raise salaries and hope things work out.

Good hireing practices (no cronies)might help.

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