Congress passed a 1.9 percent federal pay raise as part of the government funding package signed into law in mid-February, but federal employees have yet to see that increase reflected in their paychecks.

According to Margaret Weichert, deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, the delay is not due to policy or the payroll process, but rather the legal complexities of the federal pay system.

“It is purely a lawyering activity that is nearing its end,” said Weichert at a March 20 press meeting.

“We’re in the final legal clearance stage, and I know that sounds like you’ve heard that before, but to me this is an object lesson in the complexity of our pay systems.”

Though the pay raise is mandated by law, President Donald Trump has to issue an executive order that officially instructs OPM to implement it.

Federal employee unions and lawmakers have both criticized the long delay in getting the pay raise to be reflected in employee paychecks, particularly in light of the damage done to feds by the 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.

“The EO that unleashes the retroactive pay is dealing with pay tables that are so highly complex that it is exceedingly legalistic how we actually have to get this squared away,” said Weichert.

She added that the delayed pay raise, now over a month after the legislation was passed, exemplifies why some of the administration’s planned initiatives for changing the pay and employee management structure in the federal government are so important.

“There is a good example of why we need innovation in how we look at our structure of our civil service entire framework in this frustrating process. Because I totally get that people are frustrated that it takes this long, I’m frustrated too,” said Weichert, who did not offer specifics on when the raise would finally clear the legal hurdle.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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