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House bill would require raises for ‘fully successful’ SES members

Jun. 27, 2012 - 03:50PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is one of the sponsors of the Senior Executive Service Reform Act.
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is one of the sponsors of the Senior Executive Service Reform Act. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Senior Executive Service members and other senior-level employees who receive at least a fully successful rating would be guaranteed pay raises under a bill introduced in the House Wednesday.

The Senior Executive Service Reform Act, introduced by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would require agencies to give senior executives and senior employees at least the total average General Schedule pay raise — including the average locality payment — when they are rated fully successful or higher.

SES members operate under a pay-for-performance system that does not include locality pay, and their pay raises can sometimes lag behind those of GS employees they oversee. The Senior Executives Association says that, over time, GS-15 employees’ pay approaches the salaries earned by some SES members. SEA says such pay compression makes GS-15 employees less likely to consider careers in the SES.

“We need to make sure that the Senior Executive Service will continue to attract the best and the brightest from inside and outside the federal government,” Connolly said. “With nearly 40 percent of those at the SES level reaching retirement age, we must make sure that federal service remains competitive with the private sector.”

The bill would also:

• Increase SES members’ pensions by including their performance awards and recruitment, retention and relocation bonuses in their high-three calculations when determining their pensions.

• Limit the number of non-career SES members in the government. Currently, up to 10 percent of all authorized SES positions may be filled by non-career political appointees. This bill would limit non-career appointments to 10 percent of all filled SES positions. And it would reduce the number of non-career SES in an agency from the current cap of 25 percent of each agency’s total SES positions to 15 percent.

• Reduce the number of non-career SES who hold the most senior positions. Assistant secretary for administration positions, or the equivalent position, would need to be filled by career SES members. All assistant secretaries’ principal deputies must be career SES, if the assistant secretary is not a career SES. And the top acquisition, information technology and human resources officers at each agency must be career SES members.

• Increase the transparency of SES rating systems, improve diversity within the SES, and require the Office of Personnel Management to set up an SES Resource Office to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and professionalism of the SES corps.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, introduced a similar bill in April.

The Partnership for Public Service applauded the bill’s introduction.

“We need a governmentwide leadership corps that works together to solve our nation’s most pressing challenges,” said Partnership President and CEO Max Stier. “The reforms outlined in this legislation will ensure that agencies and departments develop the very best talent from within government and attract external talent to hold the top career managerial and policy positions.”

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