Training Reels

"Springing for Training" (July 15) caught my attention, especially the Social Secur-ity Administration's chief human capital officer, Reginald Wells, who endeavors to explain why SSA spends so little on employee training.

Wells should be embarrassed, not because of the pittance the agency spends on training but for misrepresenting the quality of training.

He alleges that the agency has a successful e-training program. What a joke. Its interactive video training is laughable, unprofessional, boring and often a waste of time. Considering the agency's extreme loss of staff over the years and its unwillingness to fund the additional hires it needs, the time spent on IVTs is deemed by many workers to unnecessarily interfere with their ability to complete their work assignments.

Training is one of SSA's best motivational weapons? Wells is right about that one, because the agency's training is killing us! It's motivating us to retire early.

SSA's training program is "learning on the cheap." It does not prepare employees for the rigors of administering complicated programs, leaving the public with a staff that is often unprepared to give accurate information and service.

If Wells believes in distance learning, it's because he is so far removed from the agency's training reality.

Warren Fretwell, President
American Federation of Government
Employees, Local 3342
Syracuse, N.Y.

Just Rewards

In all the hullabaloo over the new rating system and pay for performance, I see a future where unless you're buddies with your supervisor, you get at best an average rating and raise ("I'm OK, You're Outstanding," July 1). I am a hard-working government employee who came from private industry, where the bottom line is more important than mission. If you want to give government employees subjective raises, then start pay parity with private industry for the same job descriptions.

Keeping the system as is protects most General Schedule employees who do their job well and take pride in what they do, with a mandated raise each year. This approach is constantly being challenged by the executive branch, especially in the past few years. If you want to reward those who work harder and smarter, then simply reward them. Allow more realistic funding so the business line can reward employees through a local board of members. You then will keep higher quality employees.

Going the way of private firms is not the way to go in government. You will see this bear out when outsourcing reaches a saturation point-even private industry will suffer for years to come.

Don't be so cynical of government employees. We are a richly resourceful, underpaid and sometimes unappreciated group. We need to look at where leadership really wants to take this ship.

Peter G. Livas
Great Lakes, Ill.

Required Reading

"Downfall" (July 1) should be required reading for anyone in the federal procurement sector. Thank you for putting this piece together. Let's hope that any current or would-be corrupt civil servants out there take the message and stay on the right path. I cannot agree more with the words of Defense Criminal Investigative Services' Joseph McMillan: "They were prostituting the very function [they] were supposed to be protecting."

Craig Morris
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