- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

People who cheer when a federal agency is fined big bucks for discrimination or a hostile work environment love to see David belting Goliath. But they need to realize one thing:
Federal agencies may get fines, but they don't pay fines.
The money U.S. agencies use to pay fines comes from Congress. Congress gets it from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS gets it from the person who brushed your teeth this morning. That would be you.
Although individual federal supervisors and managers get sued a lot (usually by subordinates), the smart ones have professional liability insurance. The government can split the annual premiums, which total about $300 a year, with them.
Lawsuits against individuals can be a nightmare for them.
But successful lawsuits against federal entities (the IRS, Social Security, Agriculture Department, etc.) usually miss the guilty parties (political appointees who go on to better things) and zing the individual taxpayer, who always gets the bill.
So next time a federal agency gets "punished" for some transgression, get out your checkbook.

Horror stories
The Office of Personnel Management's 82-page white paper on the flaws of the federal pay system is designed to provoke a serious discussion about and solutions to numerous flaws in the $60 billion per year federal white-collar pay system.
To make sure that the media gets the picture, the Office of Personnel Management is giving out a fact sheet on horror stories. So there is no mistake, it is called: "Horror Stories: A System In Disarray."
The white-paper addendum to the white paper includes the horror stories of Jane, a supervisor; Tom an engineering technician; Joanne a job applicant; Mary a "bright energetic budget analyst"; Roger, a new manager and Sarah a "hard-working economist." Each story shows how these hard-working people was, is or will be frustrated by the federal pay system.

Retiree health premiums
Federal retirees have a fair shot at winning equal tax treatment with federal workers this year. The National Association of Retired Federal Employees says the bill to extend the so-called "premium conversion" perk to retirees has written pledges of support from 225 of the House's 435 members, and from 20 of 100 senators.
Premium conversion would allow retirees to do the same thing federal workers already can: Pay their health insurance premiums in pretax dollars. That lowers their taxable income and reduces taxes anywhere from $300 to $500 per year.


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