Panel to consider federal pay raises
By The Post's Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder:
The government could fire its latest shot in the bitter, election-year debate over federal salaries when a panel tasked with recommending pay raises meets today.
The Federal Salary Council is likely to hear an annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on where the pay of federal workers stands in relation to private-sector salaries. Given that last year's numbers put federal pay an average of 22 percent behind the private sector, the new ones are likely to generate more controversy among Republicans.
Conservative think tanks and Republicans hoping to win back Congress next week have seized on federal salaries as symbols of overspending by the Obama administration. They say a public-private pay gap exists, but in the opposite direction, with the private sector lagging 22 percent behind the government.
The nine-member salary council is unknown to most outside the federal government --and many inside. But it has a powerful role in recommending salary adjustments for up to 70 percent of the country's 1.9 million federal workers who are paid under the General Schedule (Hourly employees and the Senior Executive Service are paid under a different system).
The presidentially appointed group of union officials, labor relations and government pay experts determines not just the average pay gap, but locality pay adjustments to the General Schedule, an add-on to salaries based on where jobs are located.
There are 31 regions. Locality pay is not based on the cost of living in different metropolitan areas, but the relative salaries of private-sector jobs. The council often hears requests from groups trying to shift jobs into higher-paying localities.
Officials with the Office of Personnel Management declined to release information on today's meeting.
John Berry, the government's personnel chief, has said his staff is studying ways to tweak the salary system, in part by taking into account shifts in the labor market: If accountants are in high demand they might be paid more; if there is little demand for administrative assistants maybe they should be paid less. But Berry has said that critics of government salaries are making false comparisons by comparing all public and private jobs. Since the government workforce is more skilled than the private one, comparing all jobs skews private-sector salaries down, he has said.
Congress has not enacted a pay raise for federal employees for 2011. A draft bill in the Senate would set the increase at 1.4 percent, as recommended by President Obama. The House has not taken a position. Congress most likely will deal with federal salaries as part of a general spending bill during the lame-duck session after Tuesday's elections.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder
| October 29, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories: Workplace Issues
Save & Share: Previous: 'Deadly' report details federal waste
Next: Postal Service suspends shipments from Yemen
Posted by: kirk2trek | October 29, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 29, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: newagent99 | October 29, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DragonofAnger | October 29, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gluemom | October 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bious | October 29, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: McKinley2 | October 29, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GeraldWhite | October 30, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dean_Rogers | October 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: haskellnewscommentary | October 30, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: haskellnewscommentary | October 30, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AnnsThought | October 31, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | October 31, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: yell53 | October 31, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: geraf-CO | October 31, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eeterrific | November 1, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: darbyohara | November 1, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: notamused2 | November 1, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.