Letter to the Editor

There were two concerns in giving the IT pay raise:

First, it sought to put introductory and intermediate federal positions on a somewhat better basis with respect to the private sector. A brand-new computer science graduate now commands $60,000 to $80,000. We lost on that one.

The other main concern was to avoid long-term costs by keeping retirement benefits down for Civil Service Retirement System employees. They are still almost 35 percent of the total. A dollar to the base for CSRS costs 1.6 to 2.0 times as much as a dollar for Federal Employees Retirement System in retirement benefits and more since the CSRS employee has fewer work years left to amortize the cost with production prior to retirement.

Take a look at the following table:

Got RaiseNo Raise
GS GradeGS 5-7GS-12GS 13-15
Percent Pay Raise33%7%0%
Percent FERS100% Less than 90%Less than 20%
Percent CSRS0% Greater than 15%Greater than 80%
Age Distribution80-90% Greater than 40 years old80%+ Less than 40 years

The chart is a guesstimate/estimated projection of the FERS/CSRS distribution and the age distribution with respect to the IT pay raise.

The estimates are based on reasonable assumptions and knowledge that the CSRS pay system is made up mostly of older employees (with the youngest now in their mid-30s), and I believe the above gives a good approximation of the situation.

It shows two things. First, most of the IT pay increase went to FERS employees. Second, most of the IT pay increase went to those who are under 40 years of age. While it is not illegal to exercise bias in pay administration toward FERS as opposed to CSRS, it is certainly unfair. And with regard to increasing the pay of those under 40 as opposed to those over 40, inadvertently of course, that is a matter that the courts would have to decide.

While the intent was probably only to minimize CSRS retirement benefits, the effect might be interpreted as de facto age discrimination.

Name withheld upon request


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