Salary Survey Shenanigans

By: Mr. Wilson on September 13, 2005
I haven't been following the salary survey debacle very closely, but fortunately LIBA is keeping Lincoln accountable. I'm not sure why LIBA is demanding that the City Council conduct an investigation, though. An independent investigation seems more appropriate. The background, if you aren't familiar with the situation, is this: The city's personnel department conducted a study that was eventually used to justify substantial pay raises for 139 of Lincoln's highest paid city workers. It turns out, however, that a personnel department staffer misrepresented some of the data used in the study. It has not been made clear if this "misrepresentation" was intentional. Nor has it been made clear how much that misrepresentation affected the outcome of the study. (A good newspaper already would have conducted its own investigation and uncovered that information. The Journal Star, however, is not an especially good newspaper.) Oddly enough, I have a hard time being too cynical about all of this. (And this from a guy who has been really cynical of late!) Assuming the snafu really can be traced back to a single employee, there are two simple outcomes: if he intentionally misrepresented the data, he should be fired; if he misrepresented the data by virtue of incompetence, he should be fired. I suppose there's the third possibility that he made an honest-to-goodness mistake. In that case, his work should be carefully scrutinized and he should "pay" some sort of reparations, perhaps in the form of attending some sort of training. I hesitate to include this possibility because it can far too easily be used as a crutch to avoid firing an incompetent bureaucrat. But it would be unfair of me not to. One can argue that there needs to be tighter o versight over each city employee's work, but that will only lead to more red tape, not greater competence. Certainly the checks and balances in place to prevent these sort of mistakes need to be reevaluated and modified, but an all-out overhaul would be unnecessary. Again, my conclusions rely on the assumption that the goof in this situation was made by a single individual. If that assumption turns out to be false, I will rethink my position. For now, though, cynicism toward the entire personnel department -- or the city government as a whole -- is unwarranted. On this matter, anyway.


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