This is from a USA Today story today: "Death -- rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs -- is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations. The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 -- 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce.
Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes."
When analysts compare the public and private sector, they typically fail to put a value on job security. Most of us are "at will" hires in the private sector. We can be fired for virtually any reason at any time. In the government sector, and especially in the federal civil service, the employee is believed to have an ownership stake in the job. Unless the employee is caught committing a crime on the job, there is little chance for termination. Check out this story on the highest-paid California employee, a prison surgeon who received $777,000 but who is not trusted to perform surgery.
Add unionization on top of civil service protections, as is typical in many local and state governments, and you have employees who can work as hard or as little as they choose with no ramifications. Does this make sense?