Letter to the editor

I am writing to you about a situation no one wants to talk about that has developed because of the way the Office of Personnel Management implemented the special information technology pay supplement.

In January 2001, OPM implemented the special IT pay supplement that gives federal IT employees in Grades 7 through 13 a sliding scale increase in pay. The sliding scale decreases as the grade increases, so for a Grade 13, base pay plus the IT supplement is less than base pay plus locality pay. In effect, the IT supplement stops at the Grade 12 level.

Since OPM implemented the federal IT pay supplement, IT employees who are being promoted from a Grade 12 to a Grade 13 are jumping to a step that is four or five steps higher than they would have gone to without the IT supplement. This is because even though the supplement stops at the Grade 13 level, those with a Grade 12 level are allowed to bring their supplement with them to Grade 13!

This has created an environment where the newly promoted are leap-frogging their way past other IT employees with the level of Grade 13 for several years, who were promoted to a Grade 13 before the IT supplement, presumably because they were more qualified. And it has created a very frustrating and damaging inequity between IT co-workers.

For example, before the IT supplement a GS 12-10 was promoted to a GS 13-6. Since January 2001, after OPM implemented the supplement, that same GS 12-10 is promoted to a GS 13-10. This is a difference of four steps — more than $8,400 a year!

It takes 11 years for a GS 13-6 to get to a GS 13-10. Over those 11 years, while "catching up" to the newly promoted, the GS 13-6 will lose approximately $54,800 in pay in today's dollars with the accompanying loss in retirement and Thrift Savings Plan contributions. Can you imagine how demoralizing it is to work side by side with co-workers who were promoted after you but who now have this 11-year, $54,800 advantage on you?

Here is another real-world example from my agency as calculated by our personnel department. Nine computer specialists, 334 series, were promoted in August 2000 from a Grade 12 to a Grade 13.

As you can see, in every case, if promoted today instead of in August 2000, we would be four or five steps higher. Think about this. It takes 11 years to make up four steps, 13 years to make up five steps! Many of us have fallen 11 or more years behind employees who are being promoted after us.

In addition, we watch as co-worker after co-worker who is being promoted after us jump past us. (To be fair, it is not our co-workers' fault that this is happening, and we bear no grudge against them.) The implications of the lost wages, retirement contributions and seniority are destroying the morale of existing IT Grade 13 employees who were promoted before OPM implemented the IT pay supplement.

Something must be done to correct this situation. There are many of us who are affected by this situation. IT employees who were at Grade 13 before the IT supplement was implemented are being adversely affected by how promotions are being calculated since the IT supplement was implemented. IT employees who were Grade 13 before the IT supplement was implemented must be given parity with those who are being promoted to Grade 13 today. A penalty of up to 11 years and $54,800 because of a timing issue is not acceptable.

Name withheld by request

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