By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Contributor, In Homeland Security
The federal government, its agencies and employees are often the brunt of complaints and critiques from citizens who usually are unfamiliar with the inner workings of these institutions. In the main, the many thousands of federal civil servants are well-trained and work hard at their jobs.
Participating in the functioning of our government is a unique experience and employee dedication is rewarded with numerous perks and advantages. For example, there are financial benefits to being a “fed.”
Government Offers Competitive Salaries with Cost-of-Living Adjustments
As a government employee for 36 years, I can attest that government work is rewarding. The government offers employees competitive salaries based on a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and locality pay in the location where they work. That is particularly attractive when employees transfer to a high-cost area, such as New York or Washington, D.C.
Salaries vary. Government employee salaries are listed on General Schedule pay charts and depend upon an employee’s years of service and pay grade. These pay charts are available through the Office of Personnel Management. The charts show geographical areas and shows the combined basic pay with locality pay.
The government also has some specialized pay rates. Law enforcement officers pay rates take into account the extra hours that they often work.
There is also a Federal Wage System (FWS). The FWS covers employees who perform work that is considered blue-collar jobs in the civilian world.
Government employment also includes a comprehensive benefits package with a plethora of health care options. In addition to healthcare, the options include dental, vision and long-term care insurance plans.
The optional flexible spending account (FSA) allows federal employees to fund a healthcare account with pretax dollars deducted from their paychecks to cover incidental healthcare costs. These expenses include medical co-pays and drug prescriptions.
Overseas Work Assignments Come with Additional Benefits
Eligibility for some benefits is dependent on a federal employee’s grade and whether the job is full-time or part-time. Also, there are additional benefits for employees overseas or in areas where normal American comforts are not available.
Some overseas civilian employees receive government housing while others receive a housing allowance to defray rental costs. In areas with overseas military installations federal employees might have PX and commissary privileges.
Flex-Time Work Schedules Add Up to Three-Day Weekends
Some federal civil service jobs offer flexible work schedules and teleworking from home. Other federal agency jobs, such as classified or intelligence positions, do not offer this flexibility.
Some federal agencies and departments offer a flex-time schedule. Their employees work an extra hour a day over the course of the biweekly pay period to amass the required two 40-hour work weeks.
At the end of each pay period, flex time employees have earned an extra day off, which could mean three-day weekends twice a month.
Other Reasons to Work for the Government
The federal service also provides a variety of vacation or leave programs covering emergency leave, post-pregnancy leave and military-related leave.
Two-year intern programs with fully paid training and perhaps even the opportunity to travel are a way of attracting college graduates to a career in government. Another excellent benefit is the “earn while you learn” professional development program.
A career in government might be your opportunity to see the world. You may even have the chance to make a difference for your country. Interested? Then go to the USAJOBS employment website, upload the appropriate forms to the USAJOBS portal and take the first steps to a most rewarding career.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded the 43th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”