October 31, 2010; Source: Federal Times | This article from the Federal Times observes that more than 10 percent of the 226 regional Combined Federal Campaigns had “excessive” overhead costs of over 20 percent last year. The Greater Utica Herkimer County CFC in upstate New York was probably the worst case where overhead expenses were more than 46 percent of the amount pledged.

There were two other New York-based CFC campaign sites in the top four most proportionately expensive campaigns. Other states where problems existed were Louisiana, Alabama, and Michigan. There may be many aspects to the underlying problem including the depressed economy, but observers also blame the sharply declining workforce at the U.S. Postal Service.

The problem seems to exist in the smaller sized programs. According to the Federal Times, the overall average pledge total for the 25 CFCs on the high-overhead list was about $227,000, compared with a $1.25 million average for all 226 CFCs. Taconic Valley ranked fourth highest nationally with an overhead rate of more than 28 percent. Its pledges declined steeply from $214,000 in 2007 to $134,400 last year. Even so, the campaign still has to cover fixed expenses, such as $3,500 for an annual audit required by OPM.

Overall, the overhead on the CFC campaigns is down from 10.5 percent to 10.2 percent. The CFC system has been busy merging campaign sites, which are down to 209 from 300 five years ago. It will be interesting to keep an eye on what this system does to adjust to its changing circumstances.—Ruth McCambridge