OPM Director John Berry’s Mistaken Statements to Congress

Jason Richwine /

Even the more jaded observers of Washington politics had to be disappointed with the performance of federal pay defenders during yesterday’s House Oversight Committee hearing.

As was written on Monday, defenders had to deal with a mountain of empirical evidence that federal workers are paid above-market compensation, and I was looking forward to a vigorous discussion of that evidence. Instead, defenders of the existing pay system avoided that discussion almost entirely.

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, was the worst offender in this regard, going so far as to fundamentally mischaracterize our research. When pressed by Chairman Dennis Ross (R–FL) on whether he agrees with reports by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute that federal workers are overcompensated by 30–40 percent, Berry responded:

Absolutely not. … Their comparisons are based on gross averages. … The federal workforce is now a very skilled, white-collar, high-sophisticated workforce. … So we need to compare the federal government with like-to-like. (more…)