Two-Year Tryouts

I agree that one year is often not enough time to determine whether a new hire is someone you really want to keep for the long term ("Work Auditions," February). This is compounded if you are hiring folks into a career ladder position and need to project whether someone you hired at a GS-9 will be capable of doing excellent work at the top of the ladder-say a GS-12 or 13-several years down the road.

Government managers in this situation should investigate the relatively new Federal Career Intern Program hiring authority. We have begun to use this for certain positions at our agency and it seems to be working well. The authority allows you to bring in folks as full-time employees, with full benefits, at either the GS-7 or GS-9 level for a two-year internship.

At the end of the internship, the supervisor can noncompetitively convert them to career status, if desired. If not, the internship ends and the employee moves on.

Mark Paulson
Office of Industries
International Trade Commission

No Fan of Payband

I would like to know whom you are referring to when you say "everyone" thinks paybanding is the way to go ("Off the Payband Wagon," November 2005). If you are talking about upper management in Washington, then I would say you are correct. If you are talking about employees who are out in the field, then that's another story.

The agency I work for went to the payband system in 2000 and had people like me thinking it was a good thing. Well, let me tell you the real story. I was working in the administrative department and knew the only way I could ever get promoted was to switch over to the technical area. I spent the next few years getting my degree and eventually I was promoted to a technician's position.

I was proud of myself for achieving my goals and went through the next six months feeling elated.

Then just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how the "antique" pay system was doing and how my General Schedule counterparts were being paid compared with the bigger and better payband scale I am supposedly on. I was dumbfounded to see that the pay for a GS-12, Step 1, is $10,000 greater (excluding locality) than it is for an "H" band employee who is the equivalent to a GS-12, Step 1. This also means employees like me, who are climbing the ladder, are paid no better than a newly hired employee off the street.

If there are government employees at other agencies who are moving quickly within their payband systems and being overcompensated, it's definitely not happening here.

Karla D. Burger
Federal Aviation Administration


"The Cunningham Web" (February, print edition) incorrectly included a photo of Brent A. Wilkes, the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, instead of Brent R. Wilkes, the contractor involved with Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. LULAC's Wilkes has no connection with the scandal, and we deeply regret the error.

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