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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Higher Retirement Contributions Apparently on the Way

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The prospect of increases in the amount of money federal employees must pay into their retirement funds appears to be inching closer to reality. The Washington Post reports today that Obama administration negotiators, led by Vice President Joe Biden, have indicated they're open to the idea, to the chagrin of labor unions representing federal employees.

In their fiscal 2012 budget plan, House Republicans  endorsed the idea of requiring federal workers to contribute 6 percent of their salaries to the Federal Employees Retirement System, up substantially from the 0.8 percent employees currently contribute. Obama may not be ready for that big a change, but according to the Post report, the administration is willing to consider some level of increase in the employee contribution. It would probably take effect more slowly and cover fewer employees than the GOP proposal.

Still, the debate seems to have shifted from whether to make cuts in employee benefits to how much they will be cut. The core argument is that even with the changes, federal retirement benefits still will be as good or better than those offered by most private sector firms.Â

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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