The "Pay for FBI" letter from Milt Ahlerich, the FBI's assistant director of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs (Metro, Dec. 13), should be read by all those individuals who still believe that federal employment is such a desirable career.
All federal agencies, not just the FBI, are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain qualified individuals in high-cost areas. The expense of recruiting individuals and training them to be Social Security or tax or immigration law specialists, criminal investigators, defense contracting specialists, word processor or computer operators, or any of the other myriad skills required to make this country run, only to have them leave after a relatively short time for a higher-paying job in the private sector, is appalling. The FBI is one of the higher-graded federal agencies. If it is having trouble recruiting and retaining employees, just imagine what problems some of the lower-paying agencies are facing.
Federal employee-bashing has been a popular pastime for the current Administration and many of its supporters. The bureaucrats have been blamed for everything from the national debt to the pollution of the environment. They are an easy target. Pay and benefits have slipped drastically. The President's own advisory committee on federal pay has reported that federal pay has dropped so far below prevailing industry rates that private industry does not even bother to include it in their pay-setting decisions.
With the incoming Administration talking about a "flexible freeze," the future indeed looks bleak for federal agencies and the "loyal and dedicated employees" who remain.
WILLIAM V. EVANS
Chapter 15, Los Angeles
National Treasury Employees Union