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Scrap governmentwide pay raises, report urges

Sep. 25, 2012 - 12:58PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Although the index has been very slowly edging upward in recent months, it still hasn't recovered to its previous peak, which it must do to trigger another COLA increase.
Although the index has been very slowly edging upward in recent months, it still hasn't recovered to its previous peak, which it must do to trigger another COLA increase. (STAFF)

To help close pay gaps between federal and private-sector workers, the government should scrap General Schedule across-the-board increases in return for more flexibility to boost salaries within grades, a panel of experts said in a report released Monday.

Lower-tier federal workers tend to be overpaid in comparison with their private-sector counterparts, while the reverse is true for employees higher up the ladder, according to the report by the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration. The two groups are producing a series of reports, called Memos to National Leaders, aimed at the next presidential administration on what government reforms are needed.

The proposed changes would give the Federal Salary Council and the President’s Pay Agent the ability to “strategically target” pay increases to the GS grade levels found to be furthest below the private-sector labor market, the report said.

Currently, for example, the base salary of a GS-11 ranges from $50,287 to $65,371, not counting locality pay. Pushing the maximum up to $75,400 would provide more latitude to reward people without “necessarily having to have a promotion” that otherwise isn’t warranted, Rex Facer, a Brigham Young University professor who was one of the report’s three authors, said at a Monday forum marking its release.

Any attempt to revamp the federal pay system permanently would require congressional action and “a fair amount of political capital,” Facer said. Among other steps to strengthen the federal workforce, the report recommended:

• Enhancing federal training and workforce development.

• Improving labor relations.

• Bolstering the Office of Personnel Management’s role.

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