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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 02/14/2011

Budget 2012: Civilian and military pay increases

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 12:35 p.m. ET
President Obama's proposed 2012 budget recommends a 1.6 percent pay increase for members of the military and keeps federal civilian salaries frozen at current levels.

Obama instituted a two-year pay freeze for federal employees in November, but workers may still receive bonuses or pay increases if they earn a promotion.

"This freeze does not reflect on the performance of federal workers; rather, it reflects the shared sacrifices we must make," the budget proposal said.

The civilian freeze should save about $28 billion over the next five years by lowering the government's base compensation over the next two years, according to the White House.

Obama's pay proposals ignore the bipartisan fiscal commission's recommendation that the government freeze federal civilian and military pay at 2011 levels for three years.

Notably, the administration's proposals say nothing about what should happen to civilian and military pay after fiscal 2012, leaving open the possibility that the administration will call for a longer pay freeze or pay cuts.

Federal workers received a 2 percent pay bump in 2010, a 3.9 percent raise in 2009 and a 3.5 percent increase in 2008.

Proposals released Friday by House Republicans to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011 would curtail spending on federal employees by targeting salaries and expenses accounts at a number of agencies. Doing so would put pressure on accounts that pay for salaries, travel, training and other overhead spending. In such situations, agencies commonly resort to hiring freezes. The GOP proposals would not directly impact salary levels because pay is set by separate law.

Using statistics from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the administration also defends the generally higher rate of pay for federal employees. More than half of federal workers work in the nine highest-paying occupations (lawyers, judges, engineers, pilots, scientists, human resources managers, nuclear plant inspectors) compared to just less than a third of private sector workers, the administration said.

Federal compensation "receives a great deal of public scrutiny," but raw comparisons between average federal pay versus average private sector pay "mask important differences in the skill levels, complexity of work, scope of responsibility, size of organization, location, experience level, and special requirements, as well as exposure to personal danger," according to the administration.

Federal worker union leaders, who disagreed with Obama's pay freeze, were generally pleased with Monday's proposals. John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said he especially appreciated that the budget wouldn't cut health insurance or retirement programs for federal workers.

Staff writer Eric Yoder contributed to this report.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

RELATED: Full 2012 Budget coverage

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 14, 2011; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Budget, Workplace Issues  
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Next: Federal Budget 2012: Agency analysis


1. There is no distinction in service provided to the public by military and civilian employees. Service is service.

2. If no COLA, than the location pay needs to be analyzed. DC prices for rental have continued to skyrocket. We can't afford a pay freeze.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | February 14, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Service people while in actual hazardous duty situations should receive generous special pay.

Desk jockeys are desk jockeys whether in uniform or out.

Posted by: Vince5 | February 14, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Some points.

Military service is not the same as civilian service. Civil servants do not go to Afghan unless directly ordered. When they do go they get bonus pays, job promotions and military protection. Most civil servants that do hazard jobs receive special pays and most do it for the promotions. State Department personnel have to be forced to go to Afghan and if they do a hazard or hardship tour need only do it once in a career. I am sure that the troops in Iraq, Afghan on a ship deployed for 6-12 months would like to discuss this with their civil servant friends. Civilian contractors deployed to assist the military receive huge salaries, special pays and protection and can leave when it gets though. Same as civial servants.
Next. If the Government relocates, a civil servant of any grade, they receive relocation allowances not provided to the military nor their nearest civilian counterpart.
Next, unless it is a resume builder few if any civil servants ever quit. They know they will never have it that good anywhere else.
Last, name one corporation that provides COLA's etc to their employees? Let us all know when you do find one.

Posted by: KBlit | February 14, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

There should be no pay raises for any federal employees, military or civilian and i am one of them.

When is this country going ot get serious about the budget deficits??

Everyone knows that Defense and entitlements have to take significant hits or there will be far less in these areas in the future.

Where are the leaders?? Certainly not in the WH or the halls of Congress!!

Posted by: dkeller1 | February 14, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Civil servants do not go to Afghan unless directly ordered."


First of all, the country is spelled "Afghanistan", not "Afghan", get your facts right. Second of all...Neither do military members. Both sets of people go there under orders (or, alternatively, as volunteers who get those orders after they volunteer).


"Next. If the Government relocates, a civil servant of any grade, they receive relocation allowances not provided to the military nor their nearest civilian counterpart."


Actually, in terms of housing, military benefits are usually far superior to civil service benefits; members of the civil service do not typically receive a housing allowance; members of the military typically do, even when stationed within the US.


"Desk jockeys are desk jockeys whether in uniform or out."


Precisely. There are both military members and civil service members risking their lives, and there are both military members and civil members sitting behind safe desks in the middle of nowhere processing paperwork, and frankly it strikes me as an insult to the dedicated service of those members of the civil service who _are_ risking their lives that they are considered to be providing less vital and less risk-taking service than a military file clerk in the middle of, say, Alabama. For that matter it's an insult to those _military_ members providing service where they risk their lives to compare the two, as well. If the intent of a payfreeze distinction is to spare those in harm's way, this one was done completely wrong.

Posted by: Eleiana | February 14, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

For the most part, your so-called civil servants are only risking their lives when they eat that fifth doughnut or take that seventh smoke break.

How many terrorists have you killed with your rubber stamp, useless 'crat?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 14, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I would submit that any time a civil servant wants to give up their job just go see HR and submit the paperwork. While many military do volunteer for Afghan (and yes I do know how to spell it) that is not the case in fact. They do get orders and many to include, myself, have done 2-5 tours. Civil servants do one and the military protect them and when it gets tough the military pulls them out. As near as I figure out ALL civilians do receive locality pay which is usually very generous. In any case anytime a civil servant wants to see how it really is in the military we are glad to have you drop by and sign up for that 'cushy duty.'

Posted by: KBlit | February 14, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Because the Federal government lumps DC & Baltimore into the same locality, as if they had any relationship to each other, DC pay is suppressed while Baltimore pay is raised. This saves the government significantly as 20% of its workforce is in the DC area, but penalizes employees.

Federal workers find that by leaving DC, they can boost their pay relative to cost of living because of this gap. This means that the central offices of the government are underpaying and penalizing workers for living in the nation's capital.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 14, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Math problem: you cannot solve a 40% deficit from 15% of the budget. Either you raise revenues or you take on the sacred cows of Defense and entitlements.

If not, then you are just needlessly penalizing the public by cutting essential services for token reductions in the deficit. The 15% that both Obama and Boehner seem willing to play with constitute the only services the public actually receives.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 14, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I have served in the military and now work as a federal employee, and while I can accept a pay freeze as a civilian employee, military personnel are only paying taxes on about 50% of their income each year, while federal employees at the senior professional ranks are taxes out of this world. Miltary personnel receive a huge tax advantage and they should join us in the pay freeze.

Posted by: dcbethea | February 14, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

KBlit - if you know how to spell Afghanistan than perhaps you will spell it correctly next time. FWIW an Afghan is either a person from Afghanistan or something that my grandmother crochets. A question for you - you said that you have deployed 2-5 times - you are not sure how many times you've deployed?

I as a federal employee am well aware of the two tours I've done in Afghanistan - one to Kandahar and one to Helmand - with another one scheduled for next year. No one "pulled me out" when the rockets start falling - which they did nearly every day.

I chose to go - because that is my job. and my job helps military members come home alive. that said, if I didn't volunteer to go, I would be told that I was going anyway.

yes I receive a deployment bonus, but my pay is not tax free so it works out about even between me and a military member who makes about the same amount.

I have yet to be promoted because of my tours to Afghanistan. I have received a couple awards. and the thanks of a grateful nation - probable similar to my military counterparts.

I don't go because I am going to get a promotion out of it. or because I can get a good resume bullet out of it. or for the money. I go because it's my job and I love my job.

There are key differences between military member and federal employees. Thank you for your service, but please do not diminish the service of the civilians who serve alongside you. we serve the same as you do. it's just as hard for us and our families when we deploy. Our job is just as important as yours. And it's just as painful when a civilian dies.

Posted by: sbgmk | February 14, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"don't go because I am going to get a promotion out of it. or because I can get a good resume bullet out of it. or for the money. I go because it's my job and I love my job. "

"Thank you for your service, but please do not diminish the service of the civilians who serve alongside you. we serve the same as you do. it's just as hard for us and our families when we deploy."



Posted by: Eleiana | February 14, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Military service members write a blank check to Uncle Sam payable with their own lives. Only a leftist tool would make a nitwit remark like "service is service".

As for the military pay raise, that comes from an act of Congress, and Barry has nothing to do with it. Military services members receive an automatic annual pay increase by law, and it would take an act of Congress to repeal that law.

Posted by: screwjob23 | February 14, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The District of Columbia also has a major budget shortfall. Are DC city employees going to mirror the same guidelines that their federal counterparts will have?

Posted by: johnklenert | February 15, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I recall 1980, when Jimmah Cahtuh was facing certain defeat for reelection, he gave us federal "workers" a NINE PERCENT COLA!
Biggest vote bribe for feds in U.S. government history! Of course it didn't work for Jimmah ... who still excoriates the electorate for being too dumb to appreciate his ... value.

Posted by: clitteigh | February 15, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

WHAT ABOUT 2011 Budget!
Where oh where can it be?

Posted by: wewilson1 | February 15, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

@ getjiggly1... you know I see nothing but sheer inappropriate anti-govt tripe that you post constantly. If you hate my US govt, the workers, their deeds and their service, please EXIST the nearest airport or port station and go live somewhere that you think is better. Please do send a postcard and let us know how that turns out for you. Also, since your negativity shines with passion, be sure to have all your relatives and friends with the same vigor to stop paying taxes, BUT stop receiving any and all government benefits of any kind, local, state and federal. Again, let us know how that turns out too there Poindexter!

You all should just move to some cave in Jabip south america... maybe you would be happy to complain to the natives there?

Posted by: darbyohara | February 16, 2011 6:41 AM | Report abuse

@ KBlit... dude, did you actually read and understand the words to that oath you took when you signed up for the military? I suggest wholeheartedly you better go back and read them, and learn them!

DoD civilian employees that deploy to Afganistan DO NOT get promoted. They deploy based upon their current grade and salary from their stateside position and command. Also, as others have said, we civilians are issued orders JUST LIKE you are to deploy to hostile areas. I carry a weapon JUST like you!

Although I do agreed with your sentiment regarding desk jockey's (both military and civilian). But that is why deployment to hostile areas provide certain entitlements. But keep in mind that every penny that I earn as a civilian is taxed (except the portion for my 401k). Whereas there are only certain things military is taxed on. Makes a BIG difference come the end of the year when you add everything up! In regards to the 1040, my AGI is about equal to my military countrpart, but my taxable income is tripled. Rememeber that we also have families to care for too. But thank you for your dedicated service.

Posted by: darbyohara | February 16, 2011 6:53 AM | Report abuse

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